Healthcare overhaul law shifts focus to preventing illness and keeping people fit

LATIMES.COM | 03/26/10

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The healthcare overhaul for the first time shines light -- and money -- onto what healthcare should really be about, prevention.


But scattered throughout the law are also a number of provisions that focus on prevention of illnesses and keeping people fit. And, some healthcare experts say, this is where the real action will be in years ahead.

"This is the great, unsung aspect of the law," said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president of the California Endowment, a nonpartisan health foundation. "There's a great deal there."

Not least among those provisions, the law creates a $15-billion fund that will funnel cash to a variety of programs designed to emphasize more healthful lifestyles, including efforts to battle the obesity epidemic and help people manage chronic diseases.

A National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council will coordinate federal efforts to promote healthful living -- an approach that's the complete opposite of our current system of waiting until people become sick and then prescribing costly treatments.

"If you had to name one thing that's wrong with our current system, it's the overemphasis on care and treatment after the fact, rather than preventing problems in the first place," Zingale said. "For the first time, we're looking at healthcare as something that extends beyond the doctor's office and into our lives."

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