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Northeastern University

The Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice

IUHRP is a public health research institute at Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences. IUHRP is devoted to research and its practical application in an effort to improve the health and well-being of the residents of Boston and other urban communities. The IUHRP is focused on exploring the social determinants of health in urban settings, the promotion of health equity, and the elimination of health disparities. The Institute examines the efficacy of programs and interventions in order to inform health care practices, policies, and training.

To learn more about what we do or for more information on how to work with IUHRP on your own project please contact Wendy Pernal (



These are challenging times for public health. Funding at the Centers for Disease Control is being dramatically cut. The Prevention and Public Health Fund of the Affordable Care Act has been cut almost in half. Around the nation, state and local public health department budgets are significantly smaller than they were before the recession, and additional cuts are likely. There is no escaping it. The traditional approach to supporting public health activities – namely, with government funds for disease-specific programs – is not doing well, and is unlikely to improve any time soon.

Fortunately, several innovative experiments around the country are under way to determine whether alternative approaches can support public health activities. Some involve moving from the prevailing fee-for-service reimbursement system to one that gives financial incentives to providers to keep patients healthy by a wide variety of means, including changing the conditions at the community, school, and workplace.

This White Paper focuses on one alternative approach: the Prevention and Wellness Trust in Massachusetts, whose purpose is to gather evidence of the cost-saving power of disease prevention. Passed in 2012, this first-in-the-nation trust is a four-year, $60 million commitment to population-based health promotion efforts. Its goals are ambitious, and other states might well regard them as breathtaking: nothing less than ensuring that all residents live in communities that promote health and have seamless access to community and clinical services.

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