Nearly 300 Leaders: 'MA Health Reform Must Include Prevention'

This morning, a coalition of public health and health care leaders delivered a letter to Massachusetts legislative leaders urging them to include a robust program of community-based prevention, including dedicated funding, in the next phase of health reform. The letter includes nearly 300 signatures, of which 118 are Massachusetts organizations, municipalities, or businesses. The letter and full list of signers can be viewed here or at


“We spend most of our health care dollars caring for individuals once they’ve already become sick, and only three percent of our health care dollars on preventing diseases from developing in the first place,” said Valerie Bassett, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Today we are saying to the legislature that in order for payment reform to succeed, prevention must be at the center.”

The coalition cited rising medical costs – comprised mostly of preventable conditions – as one reason they organized the campaign. A January, 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that a mere 5% reduction in the costs of treating diabetes and hypertension could save the Commonwealth nearly $500 million each year.

Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive Director of Health Care For All and a convener of the Campaign for Better Care said, “The opportunity that we have before us today – to enact comprehensive payment reform that emphasizes prevention and wellness, not only disease treatment – may not come again for decades.”

Just an idle question that comes to mind: If there's this much consensus about the importance and cost-effectiveness of prevention, why do public health budgets keep getting slashed?

This program aired on September 12, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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