U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Historic Investment in Public Health

08/05/2010 05:20 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Jeffrey Levi Associate professor of health policy, George Washington University; Executive Director, Trust for America's Health

This week, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved a historic $1.27 billion for prevention and public health for fiscal year 2011. This proposed funding would include $750 million, which is the second installment of the new Prevention and Public Health Fund that was created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This investment could begin to shift our current health care system from one that is reactive to one that is proactive. What this means is that the system will no longer just treat people after they've become sick; it will allow us to keep people healthier at the outset.

Overall, the measure provides additional resources for cross-cutting community prevention programs, for investing in core public health capacity at the state, local and community levels, and for expanding the science base of prevention. Among the proposed appropriations, in large part made possible through distribution of the additional resources now available through the Prevention and Public Health Fund, are funds for:

Community Prevention
• Community grants, including Community Transformation Grants and Racial and Ethnic
Approaches to Community Health (REACH).
• A new state grant program to combat obesity-related chronic disease and to execute
tobacco cessation and prevention programs.

Core Capacity
• Bolstering community health workforce
• Epidemiology and laboratory capacity grants
• Initiatives to integrate primary care services into community mental health settings.

Research and Development
• Evaluations and recommendations for proven preventive service via Community and
Clinical Task Forces
• Research on effective preventive services and interventions.

The Senate appropriators should be commended for recognizing the critical role that prevention programs play in transforming the health of millions of Americans for the better. Their strategic proposal brings us one step closer to delivering on the promise of prevention in health reform. In addition, we eagerly await more detail on the recommended expenditure of the Fund by House appropriators.