An unfortunate deal…

Despite the strong merits of the need to extend unemployment insurance, extend the “SGR” fix to keep doctors payments in Medicare whole, and extend the payroll tax cut–I am disappointed in the final deal.

In particular, the deal that President Obama has pledged to sign includes taking $5 billion from the prevention fund in the Affordable Care Act–about 1/3 of the resources it has over the next 10 years–to fund the Medicare SGR “doc fix.” It’s not good precedent to whittle away at the commitments in the Affordable Care Act, and its shortsighted to take funds away from the kinds of activities that can reduce health costs in the long haul.

As Bob Ross from The California Endowment points out:

The proposed agreement on the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits extension and so-called “doc fix”, raids critically needed prevention investments for kids affected by the obesity epidemic, women affected by the breast cancer epidemic and men affected by the heart disease epidemic.

According to the latest version of the proposal, $5 billion from the federal Prevention and Public Health Fund will be eliminated to help pay for the package.

Simply put, the “compromise” on pocketbook relief for the middle class compromises health care relief for those very same Americans and others struggling to earn a living wage. We cannot pit economic security against health security for millions of American men, women and children.

The facts are clear:

Preventable chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes affect seven in ten ordinary Americans every year and eat up 75 percent of our nation’s total health care bill.

With smart and meaningful prevention investments like a fully funded Preventive Health Fund, we could add 5.7 trillion to the nation’s economic output by 2050.

And in my home state, where The California Endowment serves and advocates for 37 million people, just over a third of us have a chronic, preventable illness.

This proposal, as currently written, puts ground-breaking and effective HIV prevention, smoking cessation and nutrition investments in peril in California and across the nation.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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