Prevention and the Public Health Fund & the Health Care Law

May 1, 2014

Increased investment in prevention


Every day, nearly 1,600 people in America die from cancer. About 50 percent of all cancer deaths could be prevented by applying proven prevention and early detection strategies.

Despite enormous advances in the prevention of disease, historically, the health care system focused on treating people after they become sick or injured, instead of keeping them well in the first place. Prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, only four percent of all federal health care spending went toward prevention and early detection. Adequate and sustained investments and improvements in prevention and early detection are essential to meaningful health care reform. The Affordable Care Act took an important step in addressing these issues by creating a mandatory fund, known as the Prevention and Public Health Fund, to provide an expanded and sustained national investment in evidence-based programs that will help improve health and reduce chronic disease in our nation. 

Increasing our investment in prevention and early detection will improve health and save lives. 

Highlights of the Prevention and Public Health Fund

The establishment of the Prevention and Public Health Fund is a transformative and first-of-its-kind investment in prevention and wellness. In its first few years, the Prevention Fund has created new evidence-based programs in all 50 states and dozens of communities across the country. Prevention Fund dollars are being used to help control the obesity epidemic, reduce tobacco use, increase mammograms, fight health disparities, and fill the gaps in our health care workforce, which will ultimately reduce health care costs caused by chronic disease. ACS CAN highlights some of the achievements of the Prevention Fund in its Staying Well: Real Stories from the Prevention and Public Health Fund publication. For example, the “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, paid for in part by the fund, resulted in more than 100,000 Americans quitting smoking in 2012. Prevention chart

Unfortunately, the Prevention Fund has become a target to fill budget holes in existing non-prevention government programs, rather than used for its intended purpose to make prevention a national priority. To date, Congress has cut $6.25 million from the fund over 10 years, with approximately $500 million in additional cuts due to sequestration and diversion to other programs.

Provisions of the health care law:

Establishes a Prevention and Public Health Fund

  • The Fund was authorized to receive $500 million starting in fiscal year 2010, and $2 billion by fiscal year 2015 and each fiscal year thereafter
  • Activities funded include: prevention research, health screenings, community transformation grants, education and outreach campaigns, and immunization programs

Implications for the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)

  • ACS CAN will continue to fight for the preservation of the Prevention and Public Health Fund to the funding levels mandated under the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Society and ACS CAN will engage in opportunities to ensure the Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars are adequately distributed, increased when needed and sustained over time.
  • The Society may be eligible as a grant recipient to develop, implement or evaluate community prevention programs and health professional education and training programs.