October 28, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the October edition of Senator King’s “Inside Maine” podcast, with this edition focusing on preventive healthcare policies. In this episode, Senator King first welcomed Dr. Anand Parekh, chief medical advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), who discussed the importance of creating incentives for prevention-oriented healthcare at a national level. In the second segment, Senator King spoke to Dr. Lori Parham, the state director at AARP Maine, about preventive healthcare efforts at a state level, particularly around Maine’s aging population. Both guests were featured panelists at Senator King’s panel discussion on prevention in Bangor earlier this month, which brought together local healthcare providers, public wellness experts and Maine residents to discuss the best ways to use prevention strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
“Americans pay the highest per capita costs for healthcare, but our health outcomes don’t reflect these investments – we all too frequently wait for symptom to arise, instead of staying ahead of health threats. Clearly, something about our approach isn’t working,” said Senator King. “It’s important that legislators and the medical community alike shift our mindsets to address health problems before they get serious – because the cheapest and safest medical procedure is one that doesn’t have to happen in the first place. Dr. Parekh and Dr. Parham are leaders in shifting how we discuss healthcare expenses and improve public health, and I am grateful that they joined me to share their expertise on this subject.”
Senator King has made preventive healthcare one of his top priorities in the Senate, introducing legislation and convening leaders to discuss how we can be proactive to both improve healthcare outcomes and reduce national healthcare spending. In May, Senator King introduced the Preventive Health Savings Act of 2019, which would direct the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive healthcare, including health screenings. Under current law, the CBO only measures the budgetary impact of legislation in a ten-year timeframe; in contrast, the Preventive Health Savings Act would allow Congressional Committees reviewing healthcare legislation to request up to two additional ten-year projection windows to provide a better understanding of the legislation’s long-term effect on the nation’s healthcare spending.
In March, Senator King introduced the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, which incentivizes healthier living by allowing Americans to use a portion of the money saved in their pre-tax health savings accounts toward qualified sports and fitness purchases such as gym memberships. Also in March, he introduced legislation to help seniors and individuals with disabilities navigate the complex web of federal home modification programs; by investing in small changes like grab bars in the shower or a ramp in place of stairs, these Americans can reduce the risk of a serious fall that brings major expenses for both the individual and the Medicare and Medicaid systems. In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last November, he highlighted the importance of pursuing preventive healthcare measures to reduce overall healthcare costs for service members and veterans.
Dr. Anand Parekh is the chief medical advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he focuses on the areas of aging, prevention, and global health. He is also an adjunct professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and is an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Before joining BPC, Dr. Parekh served for ten years at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where he worked as deputy assistant secretary for health from 2008 to 2015. At HHS he developed and implemented national initiatives focused on prevention, wellness, and care management.
Dr. Lori Parham is the state director at AARP Maine, where she manages personnel, finances, facilities, and communications. In her role, she is also the lead advocate and spokesperson for AARP in Maine, a state with 230,000 members. She oversees the implementation of both state and federal advocacy campaigns, and facilitates strategic partnerships in the local and state private and non-profit sectors. She has helped nearly 60 Maine communities join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, which provides resources so people can stay in their homes.
The “Inside Maine Podcast with Senator Angus King” is a 30-minute program that aims to help keep Maine people informed about issues of the day, how they affect life in the state, and how they factor into Senator King’s work as one of two independents in the U.S. Senate. Senator King’s podcast builds on his existing radio show that airs on Newsradio WGAN in Portland, Maine between 10 and 11 a.m. on almost every last Saturday of the month. The link to the October podcast can be found HERE.