The Role of Prevention in Bending the Cost Curve

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) included the creation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, originally constructed as a 10-year, $15 billion commitment to support programs, medical screenings, and research related to public health and prevention. Since its creation, $2.25 billion has already been appropriated for FY2010 ($500 million) and FY2011 ($750 million), and FY2012 ($1 billion).

A subsequent law enacted in February 2012 cut the Fund by $5 billion over 10 years. Nevertheless, mandatory funding for this groundbreaking initiative still includes an additional $1 billion annually between FY2013 and FY2017, $1.25 billion annually in FY2018 and FY2019, and $1.5 billion annually in FY2020 and FY2021. Since the fund is designed to be ongoing, $2 billion will be allocated annually in SFY2022 and each year thereafter.

This funding is distributed to programs aligned with the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, our country’s first-ever comprehensive action plan for improving the health of all Americans. The Strategy outlines four overarching areas on which the nation’s prevention efforts should focus: building healthy and safe communities; expanding quality preventive services in both clinical and community settings; empowering people to make healthy choices; and eliminating health disparities.

This national commitment to and investment in preventing disease before it occurs is in line with evidence from a variety of recent reports and studies indicating that strategic investments in proven, community-based prevention programs could result in significant U.S. health care cost savings and overall economic cost savings.

This brief summarizes the findings and recommendations from four major studies released between 2008 and 2011.

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