Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Angus King (I-ME) have joined together to introduce legislation that would direct the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive healthcare, including screenings. The Preventive Health Savings Act of 2013 (S. 1422) would also allow the Chairman or Ranking Member of the House or Senate Budget Committee, or the health committees—HELP, Finance, Ways and Means, or Energy and Commerce – to request an analysis of preventive measures extending beyond the existing 10-year window to two additional 10-year periods. Senators Cardin and Crapo are members of the Senate Finance Committee.
“Prevention, early detection through screenings like mammograms, and changes in behavior to reduce risks like quitting smoking, all lower healthcare costs by reducing the cost and severity of treatments. As a nation, we spend far more on the treatment of disease than we do on preventive health. But our neglect of prevention has been costly, overwhelming our healthcare budgets, particularly Medicare and Medicaid,” said Senator Cardin. “Re-evaluating our budget rules is not a new phenomenon. As our nation shifts its focus to more preventive healthcare, our budgets and accounting methods should shift too.”
“In order to solve our debt crisis, we must enact substantial entitlement reforms,” Crapo said. “This bipartisan legislation is a simple fix that will allow CBO to capture the long-term savings that can be achieved through preventive health care, arming lawmakers with more accurate information when considering legislation to improve health care system.”
“The soaring costs of healthcare in this country are not only a heavy burden on thousands of American families, but are also the primary drivers of our federal debt and deficit,” Senator King said. “As a nation, we need to fundamentally rethink how we provide healthcare and this bill would mark the start of an important shift away from the traditional fee-for-service model by promoting the long-term economic benefits of preventative care. Rather than pay for procedures, we should invest in keeping our people healthy. It’s a winning combination for the American people and our economy.”
To ensure that CBO’s projections are tied to real scientific data, the Preventive Health Savings Act (S. 1422) would define preventive health as “an action designed to avoid future health care costs that is demonstrated by credible and publicly available epidemiological projection models, incorporating clinical trials or observational studies in humans, longitudinal studies, and meta-analysis.” This narrow, responsible approach encourages a sensible review of health policy that Congress believes will promote public health, and it will make it easier for us to invest in proven methods of saving lives and money.
“Wellness and disease prevention are critical in attacking chronic disease and attaining a sustainable healthcare system. We strongly support the Senators’ efforts to ensure that arbitrary budget scoring rules don’t stand in the way of creative, effective initiatives to protect Americans’ health,” said Mary R. Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council.
The Healthcare Leadership Council is part of a broad coalition of groups that have endorsed this approach to calculating the real cost savings of preventive care. Others include: the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Allscripts; America’s Essential Hospitals; American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation; American Association of Diabetes Educators; American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; American College of Preventive Medicine; American Diabetes Association; Ascension Health; BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; Care Continuum Alliance; Council for Affordable Health Coverage; Health Dialog; Healthways; IHRSA: International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association; Ikaria, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Marshfield Clinic; MemorialCare Health System; Mental Health America; National Business Coalition on Health; National Retail Federation; Novo Nordisk; Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease; Sanofi; The Endocrine Society; and Weight Watchers.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four health risk behaviors—lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption—are responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases. By addressing just these four behaviors, we can alter the trajectory of chronic disease and the health costs associated with them.
· More than one-third of all adults do not meet recommendations for aerobic physical activity based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and 23% report no leisure-time physical activity at all in the preceding month.
· In 2007, less than 22% of high school students and only 24% of adults reported eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
· More than 43 million American adults (approximately 1 in 5) smoke. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes almost all cases. Compared to nonsmokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% in women. Smoking also causes cancer of the voicebox, mouth and throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, and stomach, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.
· Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to over 54 different diseases and injuries, including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast, liver diseases, and other cardiovascular, neurological, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal health problems.