The health of the American people lags behind those from other developed countries. Federal public health agencies have a wide range of responsibilities and functions which includes public health research, funding, and oversight of direct healthcare providers. It has been a long time since changes have been made to the way the federal government structures its health care roles and programs outside of Medicare and Medicaid (Trust, 2013). With healthcare reform on the horizon now is the time to invest time and money in prevention, not medicine, making it a top priority to improve health and prevent disease. Funding efforts at all levels of the public health continuum need to focus on ...view middle of the document...
With the current administration passing and enacting the Affordable Care Act the time has come to realign and restructure public health agencies to break down these barriers and develop a supported standard process for public health.
The Affordable Care Act and Public Health Reform
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the new healthcare reform initiative enacted by the current government in March, 2010. The ACA contains many provisions to provide healthcare insurance to the thousands of Americans with inadequate or no insurance coverage. The act also increases benefits and lower healthcare costs for consumers. The law includes two pieces of legislation: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act, combined known as the Affordable Care Act. The purpose of the ACA is to reform both the private and public insurance system in order to expand coverage to over 25 million Americans by 2023 and to reduce the growth of healthcare spending (ACA, 2010). The ACA holds over a thousand pages of reforms, but for the purpose of this paper, our focus will be how the ACA will affect public health reform. Title IV of the act is called “Prevention of Chronic Disease and Improving Public Health”. The idea behind this section of the act is to reform healthcare to focus on preventing chronic disease and promoting healthy lifestyles while also tackling the difficult issues that create long-term improvements in health and drive down costs. Improved healthcare outcomes will only happen when some of these factors, such as a person’s behavior, and the underlying social factors that affect it are addressed. The government has also provided an unprecedented funding commitment to the areas of wellness, prevention, and public health. What is remarkable for the public health sector is the ACA’s emphasis on prevention and population health in the act. The ACA guides the creation of a national prevention and health promotion strategy that incorporates the most effective and achievable methods to improve the health status of Americans and reduce the incidence of preventable illness and disability in the United States (Medicaid, 2010). It also supports health promotion efforts at the local, state, and federal levels. The ACA relies on the modernization of small businesses and state and local governments to find the best ways to improve wellness in the workplace and in our communities. Also, it strengthens America’s capacity to respond to public health emergencies.
The Affordable Care Act affects all 10 essential public health services individually and the public health system in 3 separate ways. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands eligibility for Medicaid to lower income
persons and assumes federal responsibility for much of the cost of this expansion. It provides
enhanced federal support for the Children‟s Health Insurance Program, simplifies Medicaid and CHIP