U.S. citizens from coast to coast recognize the importance of the Prevention and Public Health Fund. However, the sequester — which has already slashed $51 million from the law set in place by the Affordable Care Act — puts the fund in great danger in years to come.

Strong messages to Congress from health advocates can revitalize prevention funding, public health leaders said in a Dialogue4Health webinar on Wednesday. According to speakers, the future of the fund depends on combining research from existing Community Transformation Grants, or CTGs, voter attitudes and media strategies into persuasive arguments for legislators.

“The Prevention Fund continues to be used as a piggy bank,” said Rich Hamburg, deputy director at Trust for America’s Health. “We need to convince fully engaged and other engaged policymakers. … The problem is, even our strongest champions are often unaware of what [CTG] grantees in their states and communities are accomplishing with Prevention Fund dollars.”

The proposed solution broke advocacy into three stages, including:

  • collecting community data: such as a survey of registered voters in 12 California CTG communities, which indicated that people make healthy lifestyle choices when healthy options are available;
  • linking data with personal accounts: tie research with central health themes such as health care vs. sick care, the future generation, children and localization; and
  • convincing the media to care: crafting a consistent message to news outlets by stating the problem with real results, presenting prevention as a solution and finding affected people to talk about it.

“Media people always want to see the human impact,” said Rob Waters, chief communications officer at Prevention Institute. “Tell the story of one individual and how they’ve been helped by this program.”

Added Laura Segal, TFAH’s director of public affairs: “I’ve seen the power of walking into offices in Congress with specific stories.”