Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics


Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, PPACA, healthcare, public health, prevention and wellness


On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a major piece of health care reform legislation.This comprehensive legislation includes provisions that focus on prevention, wellness, and public health. Some, including authors in this symposium, question whether Congress considered public health, prevention, and wellness issues as mere afterthoughts in the creation of PPACA. As this article amply demonstrates, they did not.This article documents the extent of congressional consideration on public health issues based on personal experience working on the framework for health care reform--specifically, my experience as a Fellow for a member of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee from 2008-2009. I also include a review of congressional activity in the United States House of Representatives. Analysis of the congressional meetings and hearings reveals that Congress had a deep understanding about the critical need to reform the U.S. public health and prevention system. The article illustrates how PPACA will have a positive impact on public health by examining the infrastructure that Congress designed to focus on prevention and wellness, with a particular emphasis on the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, the National Prevention, Health Promotion, Public Health, and Integrative Health Care Strategy, and the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Council, strategy, and fund are especially important because they reflect compliance with some of the Institute of Medicine's recommendations to improve public health in the United States, as well as international health and human rights norms that protect the right to health.