This week, April 2-8, 2012 we observe the 16th National Public Health Week and join with communities across the nation in recognizing the many contributions of public health. From vaccinations and safe water to tobacco control and motor vehicle safety, public health is a critical element of our nation's health care system.
It is fitting that this year's theme is "A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement!" which builds on the National Prevention Strategy. Called for by the Affordable Care Act, the National Prevention Strategy is a comprehensive plan that will help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life. It focuses on eliminating health disparities, expanding quality preventive health care services, empowering people to make healthy choices, and building healthy and safe community environments.
We are particularly delighted to celebrate National Public Health Week as the nation implements the Affordable Care Act, the landmark legislation signed by President Obama just over two years ago.
Under the health care law, many Americans can now get such vital preventive services as mammograms and other cancer screenings, vaccines, and cholesterol screenings with no co-pay or deductible. People in Medicare are also eligible for many free preventive services, including an annual wellness visit with their doctor. The law also created the Prevention and Public Health Fund, an unprecedented investment in promoting wellness, preventing disease, and protecting against public health emergencies across the country. These elements of the Affordable Care Act, along with the many other activities of the Department of Health and Human Services, will help us transform our health care system from a focus on sickness and disease to a focus on prevention and wellness -- and that will no doubt improve the nation's public health.
For more information about the Affordable Care Act and the National Prevention Strategy, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/prevention/nphpphc/strategy/
To learn more about the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, that oversees 14 core public health offices, see http://www.hhs.gov/ash/.