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  • ACOEM Supports House Resolution 1381 Regarding Increased Federal Commitment to Prioritizing Prevention and Public Health for All Americans

    September 9, 2008 

    The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard
    U.S. House of Representatives
    2330 Rayburn House Office Building
    Washington, DC   20515 

    Dear Representative Roybal-Allard:

    The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) is pleased to support your resolution expressing the sense of the House that there should be an increased Federal commitment to prioritizing prevention for all Americans.

    Occupational medicine enjoys a unique vantage point as the preventive medicine specialty focused on the workplace and those who work.  Occupational physicians deal with the crucial intersection of work and health, serving as the public health officers in the workplace.

    In an environment where health care costs are skyrocketing, the sensible approach is to reduce the need for care – and the most powerful way to accomplish this is by focusing on evidence-based prevention. A growing body of research demonstrates the connection between preventive practices and lowered total costs – essentially proving the scientific and economic case for prevention. Health promotion and early intervention are clearly effective in improving health and controlling health costs in the workplace; some studies have shown a return of as much as $3 per $1 invested.

    The workforce is the engine that drives our economy and supports the health care system.   The working-age population is the key to the future of health care in the United States. The aging and retirement of the baby boomers – the “silver tsunami” – is bringing with it an increasing incidence of chronic disease.    A public investment in the health and productivity of working-age population through a new preventive-based paradigm centered in the workplace is a public health imperative.

    Moving the health agenda forward by focusing on prevention in the workplace has the added benefit of addressing the vital issue of America’s global competitiveness. Because worker health and the ability to thrive in the world economy are clearly aligned, both are advanced by a new emphasis on prevention. 

    An increased Federal commitment to prevention should include four fundamental principles: 

    1. Keeping the workforce healthy and productive is essential to keeping the economy strong enough to avert overall health system failure.
    2. Public investment in health care should advance desirable social outcomes, most particularly workforce health and productivity.
    3. The workforce will become healthier and more productive through prioritized investment in evidence-based primary and secondary prevention strategies.
    4. These strategies will succeed only if spending on prevention is considered a priority rather than discretionary. 

    Investing in programs that promote prevention in the workplace and the community can help further improve the quality of life for workers and their families. 

    Thank you for your leadership in introducing this resolution. 

    Sincerely, 

    Robert Orford, MD
    President