The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 placed a substantial emphasis on public health and prevention. Subsequent research on its effects reveals some notable successes and some missteps and offers important lessons for future legislators. The ACA's Prevention and Public Health Fund, intended to give public health budgetary flexibility, provided crucial funding for public health services during the Great Recession but proved highly vulnerable to subsequent budget cuts. Several programs that aimed to increase strategic thinking and planning around public health at the state level have proven to be more enduring, suggesting that the convening authority of the federal government can be a powerful tool for progress, especially when buttressed by some funding. Most important, by expanding insurance and mandating a minimum level of coverage, the ACA both increased access to clinical preventive services and freed up local public health budgets to engage in population health activities.


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