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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: opportunities for prevention and public health
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was enacted by the US Congress in 2010, marks the greatest change in US health policy since the 1960s. The law is intended to address fundamental problems within the US health system, including the high and rising cost of care, inadequate access to health insurance and health services for many Americans, and low health-care efficiency and quality. By 2019, the law will bring health coverage—and the health benefits of insurance—to an estimated 25 million more Americans. It has already restrained discriminatory insurance practices, made coverage more affordable, and realised new provisions to curb costs (including tests of new health-care delivery models). The new law establishes the first National Prevention Strategy, adds substantial new funding for prevention and public health programmes, and promotes the use of recommended clinical preventive services and other measures, and thus represents a major opportunity for prevention and public health. The law also provides impetus for greater collaboration between the US health-care and public health systems, which have traditionally operated separately with little interaction. Taken together, the various effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can advance the health of the US population.