Press Release

May 19, 2021
Cardin, Crapo, King, Cramer Want CBO to Better Track Health Savings
Senators introduce legislation that would direct the Congressional Budget Office to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive health care

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Angus King (I-Maine) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) have reintroduced their legislation, S. 1685, the Preventive Health Savings Act, which would direct the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive health care. The bipartisan legislation also would allow congressional leaders of relevant committees to request an analysis of preventive measures extending beyond the existing 10-year window for two additional 10-year periods. Such requests could come from the Chair or Ranking Member of the House or Senate Budget committees, or the health committees – HELP, Finance, Ways and Means, or Energy and Commerce. Senators Cardin and Crapo are members of the Senate Finance Committee and Senator Cramer is a member of the Senate Budget Committee.

“Our budget rules need to stay aligned with health policy,” said Senator Cardin. “Prevention – early detection through screenings like mammograms, and changes in behavior to reduce risks like quitting smoking – all lower health care costs by reducing the expense and severity of treatments. Continuing to shift towards more preventive health care saves lives and save costs, so our budgets and accounting methods should shift too.”

“Congress can address our debt crisis by enacting substantial reforms to entitlement programs currently running on autopilot,” Senator Crapo said. “This bipartisan legislation is a simple fix that will allow the Congressional Budget Office to capture long-term savings achievable through preventive health care, and equip lawmakers with more accurate information when considering legislation to improve our nation’s health care system.”

“Catching and treating a disease early can avoid health problems getting worse, in addition to major expenses – but first, we have to change our mindset and embrace the long-term benefits of preventive care,” said Senator King. “That shift should start in Congress. Currently, the Congressional Budget Office only measures the financial effects of preventive health programs in a narrow ten-year window; as a result, these estimates miss out on substantial savings that come twenty or thirty years down the road. If we really want to measure the financial and physical benefits of preventive care, it is vital that we start looking further ahead to find the legislation that will pave the way for long-term, cost-effective solutions rather than prioritizing short-term savings. This bipartisan legislation will encourage the preventive care that can help Americans across the country improve their health and avoid costly medical bills.”

“Preventive health care measures allow Americans to live longer, healthier lives while dramatically lowering the costs that ultimately get passed along to the consumer and the taxpayer,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bill would help Congress better understand the impact of proposed investments in preventive care.”

S. 1685, the Preventive Health Savings Act 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 and responsible approach encourages a sensible review of health policy that Congress believes will promote public health. It will make it easier for us to invest in proven methods of life-saving disease prevention, such as cancer screening, vaccination, and community intervention, which will reduce long-term medical costs through improved health.

A broad coalition of over 120 organizations support S. 1685, the Preventive Health Savings Act, including Alzheimer’s Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, National Restaurant Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.