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There’s No Excuse: Americans Need Preventive Health System Overhaul

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The U.S. is plagued by preventable diseases that have a devastating impact on health and contribute to the nation’s soaring health care costs. Proven preventive services remain largely unused, and the promotion of healthy communities and lifestyles is undervalued.

According to a new report released today by Center for American Progress’s Jeanne Lambrew and John Podesta, “Promoting Prevention and Preempting Costs: A New Wellness Trust for the U.S.,” these problems occur at several levels. Most people neither know what they need nor value prevention. Health care providers, by training, put disease treatment ahead of disease prevention. Insurers have little incentive to invest in preventive services today that will benefit other insurers tomorrow. And, as a nation, we dedicate only three percent of our health dollars on health promotion – but over 20 percent of costs to the last year of life.

A new approach is needed. CAP’s proposal is a so-called Wellness Trust, which would prioritize prevention in the U.S. health system. These policy recommendations are buttressed by two additional papers, “Joining Hands: Partnerships Between Physicians and the Community in the Delivery of Preventive Health Care,” and “The Human Dimension: Strengthening the Prevention Workforce.”

Together, they represent a serious new approach to our nation’s health care problems that would improve Americans’ health and help cut soaring health care costs. To shed light on the significance of preventive health care, Elizabeth Edwards today will discuss at the Center her newly released book, Saving Graces, where she writes about her personal experience battling breast cancer. Edwards discovered her cancer the day after she and her husband John finished campaigning for the 2004 presidential election.

Following her presentation, an expert panel will discuss the ideas on building partnerships with physicians, communities, and expanding the prevention workforce. A summary of the conference and its conclusions will appear here at the end of the sessions.

To view the three full reports, please go to:

Promoting Prevention and Preempting Costs: A New Wellness Trust for the United States, by Jeanne M. Lambrew and John D. Podesta


The Human Dimension: Strengthening the Prevention Workforce, by Kristine M. Gebbie, DrPH, RN

Joining Hands: Partnerships Between Physicians and the Community in the Delivery of Preventive Care, by Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or

Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues,, faith)
202.478.5328 or

Print: Beatriz Lopez (Center for American Progress Action Fund)
202.741.6255 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or