Press Release: Advocates Call Out Minuscule Cost to Insurers to Protect State’s First-in-the-Nation Prevention Trust

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   

May 22, 2017
Contact: Maddie Ribble, Massachusetts Public Health Association, 617-697-2107, mribble@mapublichealth.org

With Deadline Looming 39 Days Away, Senate Faces Decision on Dismantling Fund

With just 39 days away from the sunset date on the Massachusetts Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund, Senators this week face a decision about whether to dismantle the first-in-the-nation program.

An amendment to the Senate budget, amendment #529 by Senators Lewis, Chandler, and Welch, would protect the Prevention Trust. Inaction on this amendment would almost certainly mean that successful prevention programs available to nearly one million residents would be shuttered by the end of the year.

“The Prevention Trust must remain a central tenet of our health reform efforts – we can’t retreat now,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “Our health system delivers top notch clinical care – the Prevention Trust allows us to extend that care beyond the clinic walls into our schools, senior centers, and neighborhoods, to pursue prevention so that we can keep people healthy before they need expensive medical care which will help control healthcare costs for the people of Massachusetts.”

“The Massachusetts Senate faces a stark choice this week,” said Maddie Ribble, Director of Public Policy for the Massachusetts Public Health Association. “Do we turn our back on the $60 million investment in the nation’s first statewide system of prevention? Or do we maintain our stance as a national leader and our commitment to the millions of Massachusetts residents that suffer unnecessarily from preventable health conditions?”

Advocates for the Prevention Trust released a visual depicting the financial impact on health insurers, who would be assessed to maintain the program. The assessment needed to maintain and expand the program would equal 1/7th of one-percent of insurers’ private health care charges. With a majority of health care spending going toward chronic health care conditions, a greater investment in preventing these conditions will benefit families, the Commonwealth, and health insurers.

The Prevention & Wellness Trust Fund is a first-in-the-nation effort established in 2012 to support evidence-based community interventions that can keep Massachusetts residents healthy, avoid preventable health care costs, and reduce health disparities. An independent evaluation of the program by Harvard Catalyst has shown positive impacts on costs, health outcomes, and systems innovation – and concluded that the program warrants further investment. (The executive summary of the final report may be viewed here. The full report is here.)

The program was funded at $60 million over four years through an assessment on health insurers and large hospital systems; the program does not require any state funding. The program will sunset on June 30, 2017 without action from the Legislature.

 

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About the Prevention Trust Coalition

The Prevention Trust Coalition is comprised of 70 organizations that have come together to push for action from the Legislature to protect the Commonwealth’s investment in the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund. Coalition members include community-based organizations and service providers across the Commonwealth, major health systems, public health advocates, and health care provider groups. A complete list of coalition members can be viewed here.
About the Massachusetts Public Health Association

MPHA is a private, non-profit, statewide membership organization that promotes “action for equity in health” through advocacy, public education, community organizing, and coalition-building. Our focus is on policies and programs to prevent illness, disease, and injury, particularly to promote health equity among all communities. To achieve our goals, we strengthen the voice and power of public health by engaging new constituencies, broadening understanding of public health, and developing grassroots local leadership in order to promote strong public health policy.

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