Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Sec. Kathleen Sebelius Headshot

Improving the Public's Health Through the Affordable Care Act

Posted: Updated:

With the leadership of our partners in prevention and public health and with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration is helping to ensure every American has the opportunity to be healthy because we know that the nation's public health affects and connects us all.

Yesterday, the White House highlighted the importance of prevention and public health, recognizing local leaders, also known as Champions of Change , from across the country. Eight Champions of Change shared their incredible work, which in many cases are supported through the Prevention and Public Health (PPHF), an important component of the Affordable Care Act. These eight Champions were selected from over 900 nominations, higher than any other Champions event and a testament to the important work in prevention and public health happening across the country. They talked about how, through encouraging preventive screenings, reducing health disparities, promoting physical activity and healthy eating, and fighting health care acquired infections, public health and prevention efforts are building healthier communities for all Americans.

I congratulate these eight Champions and celebrate the work of all our partners in prevention and public health across the country:

Janine E. Janosky, Vice President for the Center for Community Health Improvement; Akron, OH
Erica Washington, Healthcare-Associated Infections Coordinator; New Orleans, LA
• Andrea Hays, Director of the move∙ment Initiative & Upgrade Campaign; Evansville, IN
Marion Kainer, MD MPH, Physician and Epidemiologist; Nashville, TN
Natalie Pawlenko, Director, Office of Local Public Health, NJ Department of Health; Trenton, NJ
Myriam Escobar, Community Outreach Worker at Moffitt Cancer Center; Tampa, FL
Ira Combs, Community Liaison Nurse Coordinator at University of Nebraska Medical Center; Omaha, NE
Elmer Huerta, Director of the Cancer Preventorium at MedStar Washington Hospital Center; Washington, DC

President Obama and the entire Obama administration have made prevention and public health a top priority because of the lasting effects they have on the health of Americans.

That is why the Affordable Care Act provides unprecedented resources through the Prevention and Public Health Fund to support community-based strategies to prevent chronic diseases, and to improve public health. The Affordable Care Act also created the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, which provides federal leadership to engage states, communities, and private partners in creating a healthier America through the recommendations of the National Prevention Strategy -- a blueprint for ensuring Americans are healthy at every stage of life. The Prevention and Public Health Fund is supporting projects that help our health care system shift from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention.

Also at the event, some important news about the 2012 TIPS from Former Smokers campaign, work made possible by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, was announced. As a result of our first federally supported national tobacco education campaign, more than 100,000 people have quit smoking long-term. This doubled even our most ambitious goals for the campaign -- a three-month ad campaign that will make a lifetime of difference for these families.

And our efforts in public health to support healthy communities are only strengthened by better opportunities for coverage for more Americans. For example, we now have the opportunity to connect our public health messaging on tobacco use prevention with the coverage of tobacco screening and cessation services through the new preventive benefits in the Affordable Care Act. Now, we can not only drive traffic to quitlines, but also know that those ready to quit have access to free cessation services in new health plans. The same is true for many of our diabetes, cancer and other key prevention and public health education initiatives.

In addition to the celebration, on Monday, we hosted national, state and local individuals to engage in a conversation about the role of public health in the future as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act continues and the Health Insurance Marketplaces go live on October 1, more states decide to expand Medicaid and the health care landscape continues to evolve. In both discussions, it was clear that in order to achieve our goals of improving the nation's health, our greatest resources are our public health and prevention leaders. Improving the health of Americans requires thousands of dedicated workers who work selflessly and tirelessly in small and large communities across our nation. With a collective spirit, these local agents of change take innovative approaches and solutions to address local health issues -- work that we know makes a difference.

Together, public health efforts and greater insurance coverage will help us accelerate efforts to improve nation's health.

And the opportunities to improve the nation's health will only get better with the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Starting October 1, new Marketplaces are opening in every state which will offer quality health insurance at an affordable price. You can learn more about your new options at www.HealthCare.gov.

Cross-posted at hhs.gov/healthcare

Register To Vote