How Will the Affordable Care Act Impact Public Health?

Dec 3, 2012, 10:37 AM

A new commentary by Dr. Georges Benjamin, president of the American Public Health Association, looks at how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is impacting public health and how it will create new opportunities for better health for more people across the nation.

The Affordable Care Act affects all 10 essential public health services, writes Dr. Benjamin in the commentary published by the Institute of Medicine.  Dr. Benjamin says the ACA will influence the public health system in three major ways:

  • Expanded insurance coverage will impact how public health departments offer clinical services: Governmental public health agencies currently providing clinical services may transfer cases to the private sector, such as routine childhood vaccinations.
  • New care delivery models offer opportunities to integrate public health principles and enhance requirement for hospitals to define and utilize beneficial community efforts: Public health practitioners will have the opportunity to share their expertise on assessing the health of populations, implementing community and broad-based solutions, and evaluating the outcomes of these solutions.
  • Public health services can reach more people: Programs and services such as, home visiting and other maternal child health programs and specialized behavioral health services will be made available to the general population, in addition to programs on prevention and protection.

“There is a lot to learn as we make this transformation to achieve better health and better value for our health investment. A transformed public health system is an essential element of that change,” Dr. Benjamin comments in the report.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.