Community coalitions are a promising approach for implementing key aspects of the Affordable Care Act (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 2010). The Affordable Care Act established a Prevention and Public Health Fund for public health activities, which states and communities are using to support community and clinical prevention activities. Given the Prevention Fund’s focus on empowering communities to apply evidence-based, population-based, culturally-appropriate interventions, policy makers should consider funding community coalitions to lead the charge. The former HCAP community coalitions are already working towards the goals of the Prevention Fund engaging in activities such as controlling the obesity epidemic through targeted interventions that focus on physical activity and nutrition; delivering preventive health screenings; conducting health education; and improving access to health care and other prevention services.
Another priority of the Affordable Care Act is to enroll individuals into health insurance exchanges. The Affordable Care Act created state-based exchanges and small business exchanges for individuals and small businesses where they can purchase qualified coverage. Policy makers have an opportunity to leverage diverse, multi-sectorial networks that have the ability to effectively identify and enroll individuals into these exchanges. Community coalitions—and the organizations that participate in them such as community and faith-based organizations—are particularly well-suited to enroll individuals into these exchanges and provide guidance during the enrollment process. Some of the former HCAP coalitions have established highly effective eligibility and enrollment systems and processes, and are familiar with the intricacies of matching the needs of an individual with the optimal health coverage products. Further, community coalitions that serve the most vulnerable populations will be particularly important in this process, given that these organizations are already established in the community and have developed and maintained the trust of the health care and social service communities and the target populations.