Federal agencies seem to have developed a new National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy without getting much obvious advice from health insurers or private wellness program operators.
U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined with other federal officials, including Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, to unveil the program, and a prevention strategy report, at a press conference in Washington.
The Obama administration has developed the national prevention strategy to implement prevention program provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
PPACA has created a National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council. The council includes the heads of 17 federal agencies. The chairman is the surgeon general.
PPACA also has created an Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. President Obama named 13 members to the advisory group in January and 2 more in April, officials say.
Sebelius, a prevention council member, has been the Kansas insurance commissioner and the president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.
The only member of the prevention council or the advisory group who appears to have significant experience with working for a health insurance or benefits organization is Ned Helms Jr., the director of a health policy institute at the University of New Hampshire, who has been chief administrative office at Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire.
The prevention council and the advisory group held national and regional meetings and webinars to get ideas about prevention and may have received many comments from members of the health insurance community. The strategy reports offers recommendations for insurers and group health plan sponsors. But, in the press release announcing the national prevention strategy and a fact sheet giving more details, officials make no mention of private insurers or the prevention programs that insurers, employers, benefits consultants and wellness firms have developed.
Everyone agrees that the United States could save tens of billions of dollars per year if the country could address risk factors such as pollution, lack of exercise and lack of proper care for chronic conditions before people become seriously ill, officials say.