You serve as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, where, among other things, you have focused on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). What is the latest with this act, and what is happening in this area at the national level?
Each year, seven out of 10 American deaths are caused by chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. These same chronic diseases account for more than 75 percent of our nation’s healthcare spending. The most distressing part is that these diseases could have been prevented.
By addressing the causes of chronic disease and the factors that influence health, research indicates that the nation can move from a focus on treating sickness and disease to one that promotes wellness and prevention. A comprehensive community-wide health promotion and disease prevention plan can deter chronic diseases and reduce overall healthcare costs.
The federal ACA created the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council (National Prevention Council), which is charged with providing coordination and leadership at the federal level and among all executive agencies regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices. It is comprised of 17 federal agency heads and is chaired by the Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin.
On June 13, I attended the release of the National Prevention Council’s Action Plan (Action Plan) by Surgeon General Benjamin, which details the next steps in the federal implementation of the National Prevention Strategy. This comprehensive Action Plan will help keep Americans healthy at every stage of life in the following seven priority areas: healthy eating; active living; injury-and violence-free living; tobacco-free living; reproductive and sexual health; mental and emotional well-being; and, preventing drug abuse and excessive alcohol use.
Just as the National Prevention Strategy has increased awareness of the value of health promotion and disease prevention, the Action Plan further supports a comprehensive federal approach by including commitments to do the following within federal departments: Identify opportunities to consider prevention and health; increase tobacco free environments; and, increase access to healthy, affordable food.
I encourage all those who are interested in learning more about the newly released National Prevention Council’s Action Plan, to visit healthcare.gov/prevention/nphpphc.
What is the state doing with regard to community-wide health promotion and disease prevention?
Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown created the Let’s Get Healthy California Task Force through an Executive Order to reduce the individual, social and economic burdens of preventable and chronic conditions and improve the health of all Californians, making the goals a priority for the state.
The Let’s Get Healthy Task Force is charged with producing a written report by Dec. 15, 2012, that establishes a 10-year plan to inform and assist local organizations in chronic disease prevention efforts that will advance community-wide health promotion and disease prevention.
Along with individuals representing patients and consumers, healthcare providers, health plans, employers, community-based organizations, foundations, and organized labor, I attended the first Let’s Get Healthy Task Force meeting earlier this month. We began to develop a statewide strategy and a 10-year plan that will establish baseline data and target goals for reducing chronic conditions. To find out more information, please visit the Let’s Get Healthy Task Force website at chhs.ca.gov.
Locally, I anticipate that the 10-year plan released by the Let’s Get Healthy Task Force will be used by government agencies, schools, businesses, healthcare providers, and community-based organizations to enhance and build on their current efforts. Our region is ahead of other areas within the state and I applaud all of those who are advancing health promotion and disease prevention in our communities.