A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Public Health Investments Pay Off

Public Health Investments Pay Off

December 1, 2011

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released a policy brief summarizing four groundbreaking research studies that confirm what we already know: sustained, dedicated, adequate funding for community-based prevention will pay off right away, and even more for the long run.

Key findings from the brief highlight the successes of proven, community-based prevention programs:

  • A July 2011 study published in Health Affairs found that increased spending by local public health departments can save lives currently lost to preventable illnesses.
  • A 2011 Urban Institute study concluded that it is in the nation’s best interest from both a health and economic standpoint to maintain funding for evidence-based, public health programs that save lives and bring down costs.
  • A May 2011 study published in Health Affairs showed that a combination of three strategies – expanding health insurance coverage, delivering better preventive and chronic care, and focusing on a prevention strategy to enable healthier behavior and safer environments – is more effective at saving lives and money than implementing any one of these strategies alone.
  • In 2008, Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report showing that an investment of $10 per person annually in proven, community-based public health programs could save the United States more than $16 billion within five years – a $5.60 return for every $1 invested.

The recommendations stemming from these studies all say essentially the same thing: sustained investments in public health are imperative to improving health outcomes and reducing medical costs.


That’s why HCFA and the Campaign For Better Care continue to support the Mass Public Health Association’s push to include the Prevention and Cost Control Trust proposal as part of payment reform.

Study after study shows that prevention is the key to stemming the growth of chronic disease, the most costly part of our health care system.  As our legislators take the next step in shaping payment reform in the Commonwealth, we urge them to increase investments in public health – the payoff is measurable and real.
-Alyssa Vangeli