One of the fundamental themes encompassed in the landmark Affordable Care Act is prevention. Last June, federal agencies released the National Prevention Strategy, the nation’s first-ever coordinated plan aimed at increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life by building healthy community environments, expanding access to primary care and eliminating health disparities.
Yesterday, building on those ideals, U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin announced the National Prevention Council Action Plan, which outlines the next steps for implementing the prevention strategy. The plan lists more than 200 actions the federal government is taking or plans to take to address public health challenges such as obesity, tobacco use, chronic disease, health disparities and access to healthy, affordable food.
Seventeen federal departments that make up the council, which was created by the Affordable Care Act, are incorporating prevention in their activities “to promote the best health outcomes where people live, learn, work and play.”
“This action plan highlights how the National Prevention Council departments are working together — in conjunction with state, tribal, local, territorial, public and private partners — to begin to move our health system from one based on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention,” said Benjamin, who released the plan in Sacramento, Calif. “I encourage everyone — government; business; academics; industry; private and public partners; philanthropy; community and faith-based organizations; and each of us as Americans — to take actions toward making America a more healthy and fit nation.”
The plan states that its actions support ongoing contributions to Healthy People 2020, which was created to provide science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.
Though the U.S. spent over $2.5 trillion for health in 2010, it ranks below many countries in life expectancy, infant mortality and other indicators of healthy life. The plan states that “most of our nation’s pressing health problems can be prevented.”
Agency collaboration is called for to support several plan initiatives. For instance, the plan partners the departments of Health and Human Services and Labor to create a healthier workplace for more than 141 million workers. It also pays particular attention to tobacco, the nation’s leading preventable cause of disease and death — affirming that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will work with HHS, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Lung Association to create widespread smoke-free environments.
Benjamin added: “I believe that prevention offers the greatest opportunity to improve the health of America’s families, now and for decades to come.”
A full version of the National Prevention Council Action Plan can be read here.