By Dom Frissora, OPHA Past President: On Friday, March 31, representatives from OPHA and four health departments in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District discussed the future of healthcare in Ohio, and the US, with Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH 12thDistrict). Tiberi is the Chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.
Representing 12th District health departments were Tom Quade (Marion Co. Public Health), Kelli Hykes (Columbus Public Health), Joe Ebel (Licking Co. HD), and Joe Mazzola (Franklin Co. Public Health). Representing OPHA were Lois Hall, Rick Cornett, Mike Smeltzer and Dom Frissora.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss improvements that need to be addressed in the country’s current health care and health insurance system, and criteria we support for inclusion in any new health care access legislation. In addition, we wanted to advise him that the Public Health professionals have the expertise and willingness to help him and other legislators in crafting such legislation.
Discussion centered around problems in the current health care system independent of the Affordable Care Act or any legislation to replace it. The importance of fixing these costly problems before taking action to repeal and replace the ACA was stressed. It was explained that the nation’s Public Health system could be part of the solution by providing a lower cost alternative to preventive and primary care services.
Representative Tiberi acknowledged that on reflection, he cannot recall Public Health being involved in the discussions on health care reform. He did show that over the past 50 years, the percentage of dollars committed to federally mandated programs has grown significantly, which minimizes that amount of discretionary dollars available for Public Health. In response, it was explained that every dollar invested in preventive programs would significantly reduce expenditures for mandated health care programs.
There was good discussion. Congressman Tiberi invited Tom Quade and APHA officials to schedule a meeting with him and other legislators in Washington. A letter from OPHA and the eight local health departments in his congressional district was given to Representative Tiberi expressing the need to support the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and to work together to resolve the issues.