Author Affiliation: Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.
On March 23, 2010, the president signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Although, currently, this legislation has been repealed by the House of Representatives and challenged in the judicial system, there remains a glimmer of hope among some sectors of the US population that key aspects of this law will survive. By all accounts, the PPACA is ambitious and critical to the financial sustainability of the nation. The bill's primary focus is on making significant changes in the private health insurance industry, thus changing the outlook for access to health care for broad sectors of the population. Expanded coverage for individuals with preexisting health conditions, improved coverage for prescriptions, and a long-awaited focus on prevention are among the key elements of the law. Relevant to this last feature is the creation of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, which was launched in July 2010 and is led by the Surgeon General. Given that preventable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes drive more than 75% of health care costs,1 the focus on wellness and health is long overdue.
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