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Letter: Health care begins with prevention

A doctor draws medicine into a syringe during

A doctor draws medicine into a syringe during a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Credit: Getty Images, 2012

New York State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah got it right when he said that our $2.7 trillion health care system largely ignores prevention and must focus more on fostering healthy communities ["Official touts prevention," News, July 31].

We need to begin addressing the root causes of illness and injury, instead of directing nearly all of our resources to treatment. Healthy people live in healthy, safe and equitable communities with easy access to parks, playgrounds and markets selling nutritious food.

I've been thrilled to see the federal government begin investing in a community approach to health through the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a part of the Affordable Care Act. Sadly, this fund has been the target of shortsighted attacks in Congress. If we are serious about lowering health care costs -- and saving money and lives -- we must continue to invest in prevention.

Larry Cohen, Oakland, Calif.

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the Prevention Institute, an advocacy organization.