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The Johanns Amendment is Making Us Sick

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Sometimes people's choices show you a lot more about what they don't know than they know. That is certainly the case with the Johanns amendment, up for a vote tomorrow in the Senate.

Lauded as a boon to small businesses tangled in IRS reporting red-tape, the Johanns amendment could really have provided much-needed relief to businesses across the country. But it offers up the Prevention and Public Health Fund--$15 billion dollars committed to building health and wellness to offset costs. By doing so, the Johanns amendment pits small business against the health and vitality of our communities, and pushes for a vote where no one will win.

Less than six months from the creation of the health reform law, and there is already an attempt to pick it apart and disrupt it. Sadly and ironically the attack tries to largely eliminate prevention, something that has been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike.

I have to believe that anyone who would vote to gut prevention money genuinely doesn't understand the promise it holds for our economy, our health and for small businesses. Studies show the huge advantages, and savings, to businesses from prevention.

In a country where some of the greatest costs to our workforce and our economy come from chronic disease and injury, prevention is the only solution Prevention saves money in health costs and saves money in productivity and reduced absenteeism--one study found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73.

We no longer have the option of continuing business as usual, anymore than we can afford to wait until people are sick before we start to get involved. The Prevention and Public Health Fund is not just a smart investment, it is a commitment to a new vision of health for our communities. We are lucky to have a host of legislators who do understand prevention, and who will be arguing hard tomorrow to protect it. Those senators know, that no matter how the issue is cast, we won't be helping small business with the Johanns amendment--we'll be making everyone sick.

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