If there was ever a time to recognize the necessity of expanding access to meaningful health coverage, it’s now.
New Report Showcases How Prevention Fund is Helping Communities Save Lives from Cancer
While the public is overwhelmed by political rhetoric around the Affordable Care Act, it's less likely that people hear about the parts of the law that are having a lifesaving impact on cancer patients and survivors across the country. Take, for example, the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is supporting evidence-based disease prevention programs in all 50 states and dozens of communities across the country. To increase awareness of the Prevention Fund's lifesaving impact, ACS CAN released a report last week called Staying Well: Real Stories from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which features 17 stories of state and community programs that depend on the Prevention Fund for their critical work. Research shows that roughly half of all cancer deaths could be prevented if people stopped using tobacco products, had access to proven cancer screenings, ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly and maintained a healthy weight. Our report highlights how the Prevention Fund works by supporting grants for proven programs that focus on each of these prevention measures. The communities highlighted in the report represent the results we've seen nationwide since the fund was created in 2010. I want to give you two examples of the programs highlighted in the report, both of which are having some dramatic results:
- The Mid-South Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities (CEED) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is working to close health care gaps in six states targeting regions struck by high cancer death rates, specifically within underserved African-American populations. Based on CEED's research, a local coalition created solutions to improve access to breast and cervical cancer screenings for women in Alabama and the surrounding states. Within two years, the plan eliminated the racial health gap in several counties.
- The Iowa Department of Health received funding to expand its successful Quitline program. The Quitline helps smokers quit by providing needed counseling and nicotine replacement therapy, a combination proven to be an effective way of kicking tobacco permanently. Smokers who use Quitlines are significantly more likely to stop smoking than those who don't. In Iowa, about 24 percent of Quitline clients weren't using tobacco seven months after completing their program, compared to 3 to 5 percent of smokers who didn't use Iowa's Quitline.
I invite you to read the rest of the report to see how communities like yours are helping their residents avoid battles with serious diseases such as cancer. This report shows that with the help of the Prevention Fund, we can be successful in focusing our nation's communities on preventing disease before it occurs, rather than waiting to treat people when they get sick.