Howard Koh accepts APHA Presidential Citation Award

Uploaded by aphadc on 30.10.2012

Dr. Melvin Shipp: Please help me welcome Dr. Koh.
Dr. Howard Koh: Thank you, thank you. Thank you so much. We've all been so honored to
hear the passionate words of leader Nancy Pelosi, and now President Dr. Benjamin, APHA
Executive Board and staff, distinguished guests, colleagues and friends.
It is a tremendous honor to be with you today and accept the APHA Presidential Citation
Award on behalf of President Barack Obama. No President in recent memory has done more
to improve the health and lives of our people, including the most vulnerable among us. In
February of 2009, when President Obama announced to a joint session of Congress that we must
have quality, affordable health care for every American, he wasn't delivering political rhetoric,
he was making a profound promise, and only one year later, he signed the Affordable Care
Act into law. Already, tens of millions of Americans are
benefiting from the Affordable Care Act, from children up to age 26 who can now get coverage
on their parent's policies, to individuals previously locked out of the insurance market
because they had preexisting conditions, to women who can now get mammograms and other
important screenings and benefits with no out-of-pocket costs, and of course, to seniors
who are savings hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs. In the years to come,
millions more will be protected from the worst insurance company abuses and have access to
quality, affordable health coverage.
Just six months after taking office, the President presided over another momentous public health
accomplishment, by signing into law a series of measures that puts our nation on a trajectory
to end the tobacco epidemic. This includes: Signing into law the historic, Family Smoking
Prevention and Tobacco Control Act on June 22, 2009. This historic law grants the FDA
unprecedented authority to regular tobacco products to protect the public's health. Then
one year later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled its first-ever
national strategic plan to help end the tobacco epidemic.
As a result of this plan, and the Affordable Care Act, the Office of Personnel Management
has ensured that all Federal employees have access to evidence-based tobacco cessation
treatments. Medicare has expanded its coverage of tobacco cessation counseling to all Medicare
beneficiaries, not just those with tobacco-caused diseases. Medicaid has also expanded its coverage
to include full cessation support for pregnant women, and has offered to reimburse states
for 50% of the cost of providing tobacco quit line services.
And as our nation faces so many public health challenges, President Obama is also deeply
committed to the goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation. On July 13, 2010, the White House
released the nation's first-ever comprehensive U.S. National HIV-AIDS strategy. It's vision
for the nation is to have the United States become a place where new HIV infections are
rare; and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender or gender identity,
race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socio-economic circumstance will have access to high quality,
life extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.
The Obama Administration is also standing up for our nation's future, by pledging to
tackle the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation, so that kids born today can
reach adulthood at a healthy weight. First Lady Michelle Obama has taken on this challenge
as one of her top priorities. Every day, all around the country, Let's Move is inspiring
families and communities to make healthier food and physical activity choices to help
children reach their full potential for health. Finally, in keeping with the theme of this
year's APHA conference, prevention and wellness across the lifespan. Just last year, the Administration
released the National Prevention Strategy, a comprehensive plan required by the Affordable
Care Act, to help Americans be healthy and fit at every stage of life. The National Prevention
Council engages 17 Federal departments and agencies, in conjunction with state, tribal,
local, territorial, public and private partners to promote healthier communities. Already
efforts to implement the strategy are underway; and in fact, we have over 200 specific prevention
and wellness actions that are currently being carried out to support health and wellness.
As we reflect on the President's accomplishments in public health, and on everything he, the
First Lady, and our amazing talented HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius have done to help all Americans
enjoy the gift of health, I must express what an absolute honor and privilege it is to serve
as the Assistant Secretary for Health in this Administration.
So on behalf of the President, I thank you for this honor, and I gratefully accept this
award for him. Thank you very, very much.