Guest Author, Tom Frieden, MD, MPH
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Last Saturday marked the third birthday of the Affordable Care Act. We at CDC are in the prevention business. So, in addition to the Act’s provisions to increase health insurance coverage, improve quality, and address cost, I’m especially excited about the potential for prevention—prevention in communities and prevention in health care settings. It’s wonderful to see the difference it’s making three years later.
- The Affordable Care Act has eliminated out-of-pocket costs–copays and deductibles—for proven preventive services. Despite proven benefits of preventive tests, screenings, and vaccinations, millions of Americans still don’t get these services. The ACA makes it free for millions of Americans with new private health plans to receive these proven services, including mammograms, flu shots, smoking cessation counseling, and more. Last week, HHS released a study showing that approximately 71 million Americans received expanded coverage for preventive services in 2011 and 2012.
- The Affordable Care Act is supporting important prevention programs. These include better monitoring of American’s health, strengthening state and local capacity to detect and respond to disease threats, modernizing immunization capacity, and supporting national and community programs to prevent leading causes of death, such as heart disease and stroke.
- The Affordable Care Act is promoting public health, health care, and other sector collaboration to maximize the impact of prevention activities.
- The law funded the first-ever national media campaign to help smokers quit; CDC’s campaign, “Tips from Former Smokers,” has helped more than a million Americans try to quit and will extend the lives of tens of thousands of people who quit smoking as a result.
- Million Hearts™ is the joint CMS-CDC national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over 5 years. The ACA provides the drivers and momentum to align improved cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical settings with simultaneous efforts in the community.
- The National Prevention Council, comprised of heads of 17 federal agencies, laid out a Prevention Strategy that’s already catalyzing actions by all sectors of society—including education, transportation, housing, and health—to support health and wellness and prevent disease.
There are many more ways the Affordable Care Act has aided prevention—the impact of millions more Americans having insurance is one, but far from the only one. The Affordable Care Act, in just three years, has already made a contribution to prevention, saving lives and transforming our system from a “sick care” system to a health care system.
Learn more about the key features of the Affordable Care Act at www.healthcare.gov/law/features.
Find out about the Health Insurance Marketplace and sign up for email and text updates at http://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/index.html.