Reactions to the Supreme Court’s ACA decision
U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, providing new opportunities for public health.
Today, June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued a historic decision on the fate of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a school of public health, we see that decision as a turning point for the nation’s public health and health care systems, and for our own role in advancing community health through cooperation between health care and public health.
Most of the public’s attention was focused on the widely debated “individual mandate” provision, but there were broader issues affected by this decision. The ACA re-framed the mission of the U.S. health care system and providers toward a greater expectation to improve community health and the health of our population as a nation. That change will create more opportunities for partnerships between health care providers and public health practitioners to improve community health. Specifically, expansion of the mission of health care to include improved health of whole communities now opens important new synergies between health care systems and public health agencies.
It is unreasonable for us to expect that a single statute could literally be a “cure-all” for our growing and strained health care system. But ACA brought to light and seeks to advance the interests that are tied so closely to our school’s mission. ACA supports the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council; the CDC’s Community Prevention Services Task Force and their community guide; the Community Transformation Grant program to address healthy eating, physical activity and tobacco control; the Let’s Move initiative; the Childhood Obesity Task Force; and vital programs to train the public health workforce.
Regardless of the legality of the individual mandate, these public health initiatives are well worth their place as national health policy priorities. The politics and media coverage surrounding the law and Court’s decision should not over shadow the investment that our nation has made in the future health of our communities and citizens. We believe ACA is not the end point, rather the beginning of new efforts to improve community health.
The Colorado School of Public Health is committed to playing an active role in the development of a healthier nation. Our faculty can play vital roles in this commitment by training the coming generation to work effectively in collaboration with health care systems, by providing the evidence to enact sound regulations and policies, and by sounding a voice to advocate and advance health in the population.
June 28 was a historic day for the nation and the Court, but also in the creation of a healthier future for communities across Colorado, our region and the country.
David C. Goff, Jr. MD, PhD Tim Byers, MD, MPH
Dean Associate Dean for Public Health Practice