In 2000, Michael O’Donnell, editor of the American Journal of Health Promotion, and other leaders in the field of health promotion began discussion with health promotion experts, health promotion organizations, and more than 350 congressional offices to identify the most important needs of the health promotion community and to determine which of these needs could be addressed through federal policy.
Health Promotion Advocates was created in 2004 as a 501(c (4) non-profit advocacy organization in integrate health promotion concepts into national health policy in the United States. Its mission is to make health promotion an integral part of all elements of society, including workplaces, schools, clinical settings, families, neighborhoods, and local, state, and federal policy.
The work of Health Promotion Advocates is conducted by a volunteer board of directors, the members of three standing committees (communications, finance, and grassroots), state advocacy leaders, and about 2500 of grassroots advocates across the country. In addition, Health Promotion Advocates collaborates with a number of policy groups, trade associations, and educational organizations to develop, support, and pass legislation that contributes to the mission.
Health Promotion Advocates worked with members of Congress on legislation, which was introduced in Congress ten times between 2004 and 2009. This legislation included the HELP America Act (introduced in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007); Health Promotion Finding Integrated Research, Synthesis and Training Act (FIRST, introduced in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009); and the Healthy Workforce Act (introduced in 2007 and 2009).
Health Promotion Advocates members sent more than 11,000 letters to Congress in support of the health promotion provisions that were incorporated into the Affordable Care Act that was passed on March 23, 2010.
The Affordable Care Act includes six of the health promotion provisions which Health Promotion Advocates have been advocating for many years:
- Development of a national health promotion plan;
- Enhanced health promotion research;
- Technical assistance to enhance evaluation of workplace health promotion programs;
- Regular periodic surveys on the prevalence and components of workplace health promotion programs;
- Grants to pay a portion of the cost of comprehensive workplace health promotion programs for small employers; and
- Premium discounts of up to 30% for positive lifestyle practices or participation in health promotion programs.