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NAQC Newsroom: Announcements

Prevention Fund Update

Friday, February 24, 2012  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov

As you know, Congress and the Obama Administration came to an agreement on an economic package last week and cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act to help pay for it. The cut to the Fund totals $6,250,000,000 over 10 years – a cut of over 30%. We are disappointed in this action and believe it is a shortsighted move that will cost lives and money.

The cuts to the fund enacted last week will begin in FY13. The level of funding for FY12 will remain at $1 billion. Under the Affordable Care Act, the Fund would have grown to $2 billion in FY15, but the cuts enacted last week will result in relatively flat funding for a number of years, and it will not grow to $2 billion until FY22. Only efforts by tobacco control and other public health advocates kept the fund from being cut further or even eliminated, so many thanks to those who helped educate members of Congress about the value of prevention.

Thanks to those efforts, even with these cuts, the Prevention Fund represents the only real opportunity for increased federal dollars for tobacco control, such as funding for the Office on Smoking and Health and the Community Transformation Grants. In FY11 and FY12, money from the prevention fund has allowed OSH to fund anti-tobacco media campaigns, including the forthcoming national campaign, as well as enhanced funding for state quit lines. It is also providing resources to states and communities for tobacco prevention efforts through the Community Transformation Grants. Thus, it will be critical that we all work to continue to communicate to policy makers the value of tobacco control in saving lives and health care dollars.

Even though the Prevention Fund represents a small fraction of what the nation spends on health care, many in Congress want to cut it more or even eliminate it entirely. Because of that, we will all need to work together to protect this fund in the future. Some of the items in the economic package will be back before the Congress again in just 10 short months, and we expect the Prevention Fund to again be a target. For example, in 10 months Congress will again have to find funds to avert cuts to physician payments in Medicare.

We must not wait until Congress again has the Prevention Fund in its sights. We should all express our disappointment about the recent cuts and then educate Members at every opportunity over the course of the year about the value of tobacco prevention. We need to make them aware of how funds in their community are being used and the record of success of these programs. You all have great stories about what your efforts are accomplishing in your community, and we need to communicate those to policy makers.

We will continue to communicate about what you can do to help protect the prevention fund. In the immediate days ahead, you should contact your members of Congress and express to them your disappointment in the cuts to the fund. You can find those members at the following link:

http://action.tobaccofreekids.org/site/PageNavigator/CongressLegislatorLookup.html

All you need to do is tell them is that you are disappointed in the shortsighted cuts to the Prevention Fund because we know that investments in prevention saves lives and taxpayer dollars. It does not help the deficit to cut programs that save money. Tell them how important it is to preserve what is left of the Prevention Fund in the coming year and that you will be watching.

As you all know, the value of tobacco prevention has been proven in a host of states. Two recent studies again affirm the value of investing in prevention and demonstrated that tobacco prevention and cessation programs save far more money than they cost by reducing tobacco-related health care and other costs. Never mind the fact that they save lives. Washington State’s tobacco prevention and cessation program saved more than $5 for every $1 spent by reducing hospitalizations for heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer caused by tobacco use, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health. Massachusetts saved more than $3 for every $1 it spent helping beneficiaries enrolled in Medicaid to quit smoking, according to a George Washington University study. These kinds of data are critical to efforts to protect tobacco prevention funding, both at the state and federal level.

Moving forward, we need to make sure we continue to collect these kinds of data to show the impact of our tobacco control efforts, as well as stories from your community about the toll tobacco takes, the work you are undertaking, and the success you are having.

Thanks you again for your efforts. We look forward to seeing the impact of the additional funding that has been secured for tobacco control at the federal level and to working with you to protect and expand those critical resources.

Source: Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids

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