Improving the Population's Health: The Affordable Care Act and the Importance of Integration

Authors

  • Lorian E. Hardcastle,

    1. Fellows at the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown University Law Center.
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  • Katherine L. Record,

    1. Fellows at the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown University Law Center.
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  • Peter D. Jacobson,

    1. Professor of Health Law and Policy and Director for the Center for Law, Ethics and Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
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  • Lawrence O. Gostin

    1. Linda D. and Timothy J. O'Neill Professor of Global Health Law and Faculty Director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center; the Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Rights; a Professor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and a Visiting Professor at the Faculties of Law and Medical Sciences at the University of Oxford.
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Abstract

Despite evidence indicating that public health services are the most effective means of improving the population's health status, health care services receive the bulk of funding and political support. The recent passage of the Affordable Care Act, which focused on improving access to health care services through insurance reform, reflects the primacy of health care over public health. Although policymakers typically conceptualize health care and public health as two distinct systems, gains in health status are most effectively and cost-efficiently achieved through their integration into a single health system. The Act does little to compel integration; however, there are numerous opportunities to encourage the coordination of public health and health care in the Act's implementation.

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