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Monday, September 13, 2010

Early Detection is Key to Ensuring a Healthy America

Ron Pollack

Executive Director

It’s true what they say; you don’t have anything if you don’t have your health.

And when you look at the numbers, it really is quite astounding just how important early detection and preventive care is to staying healthy.

Heart disease is the leading killer among men and women in the United States. Type 2 diabetes affects 23 million Americans. And breast cancer will claim 40,000 lives this year alone. But by catching disease early, chances for survival increase exponentially.

That’s why it’s been so heartbreaking that in these tough times, too many Americans have faced difficult choices. Because of high out-of-pocket costs and inadequate coverage, too many parents have worried about how to pay for their children’s vaccines, too many women have forgone life-saving mammograms, and too many at-risk people have skipped blood pressure and diabetes tests.

To address this injustice, our new health care law includes major protections that ensure free access to potentially life-saving, early detection screenings.

 I can’t state enough what a major victory this is for the American people, and what a great peace of mind it is to know everyone can get the care they need to stay healthy both now and in the future.

 These preventive care protections are set to take effect on September 23, but before they’ve even had a chance to help millions of people, there are new efforts underway to gut this vital piece of our new law.

Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate will vote on an amendment proposed by Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) which would cut $11 billion – you read that correctly, BILLION – from funds allotted for preventive care such as immunizations, health screenings, and the elimination of health disparities.

The impact would be devastating. All of these services play a vital role in reducing the incidence of chronic illness and infectious disease and in containing overall health care costs for everyone. If this funding cut passes, we’ll be returning to the days when struggling parents could not afford a simple measles shot for a young child. And where millions of women couldn’t afford to get a mammogram even after finding a strange lump in their breast.

I know there is a lot of confusion about health reform, but when you cut through the spin and the political posturing offered by opponents of our new law, you see that the Affordable Health Care Act is about helping real people and solving problems that have plagued millions of hardworking families who are just trying to create a better life for themselves, their children, and their families.

At Families USA, we’re working hard with legislators, urging them to vote NO on the Johanns Amendment to protect health care consumers across the country.  But even if we are successful, this won’t be the only attempt by opponents who want to undercut our new law.

In the short term, you can help us fight the Johanns Amendment, by clicking here and telling your senators to vote NO.

In the long term, you can help protect our new law by learning the truth about its key provisions, then making sure your friends and neighbors learn the truth as well.  We’re all in this together. And much like early detection is a critical way to treat disease, early action is a critical way to protect our new health care rights.