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Two New Issue Briefs -- Combating Chronic Health Problems with Public Health Initiatives & Oral Health Challenges and the Health Law

Monday, October 29, 2012

Two new issue briefs from the Alliance for Health Reform examine the ability of public health initiatives to deal with costly chronic health conditions and the persistence of barriers to oral health care. The nonpartisan Alliance produced the briefs with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The first brief, Public Health Prevention Efforts: Saving Lives, Saving Money?, available here, examines chronic conditions as a huge driver of health care costs, and the potential help of public health initiatives. Obesity, for example, is closely associated with several chronic conditions, and diabetes and other chronic conditions can often be prevented or delayed by addressing health-related behaviors such as smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet.

A recent Institute of Medicine report calls for the doubling of funding for public health programs—including prevention services. But there are questions about whether preventive services improve health outcomes, whether public agencies recoup their investments, and whether expenditures can lower the deficit and contribute to economic growth.

The second brief, Oral Health and the Affordable Care Act: Only Part Way to the Finish Line, available here, identifies provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that expanded dental coverage, primarily for kids, and called for education. Some provisions in the law have not been funded. Many adults currently lack dental coverage, and minorities and poor people are at the highest risk for disease. Some states are considering legislative proposals to train and license less expensive mid-level practitioners – somewhere between dentists and hygienists – to be able to do more. Dentists believe these proposals will lower the current standard of care and compromise patient safety.

The briefs, available here, draw from information presented at two recent Alliance congressional briefings. Chronic Disease Prevention: Saving Lives, Saving Money took place on July 13, 2012. A webcast of the briefing is available here. Oral Health: Putting Teeth into the Health Care System took place August 17, 2012. A webcast of that briefing is available here.

Contact: Marilyn Werber Serafini 202/789-2300


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