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November 29, 2018

In Senate Hearing, King Urges Nominee to Emphasize Preventive Treatment in Effort to Reduce Healthcare Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) highlighted the importance of pursuing preventive healthcare measures to reduce overall healthcare costs. During his questioning of Mr. Thomas McCaffery, the nominee to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Senator King emphasized the rising costs of healthcare nationwide, and the unique ability of the Department of Defense (DoD) to drive changes in the marketplace as a major purchaser of healthcare services. Later in the hearing, Senator King questioned Mr. William Bookless, the nominee to serve as Principle Deputy Administrator of National Nuclear Security Administration about nuclear proliferation.

“You have about 10 million people in your system as I recall, about 9.4, something like that, that gives you a tremendous opportunity to talk about the cost of health care, which is a problem that’s nationwide, the cost of health care is going to break us no matter who is paying,” said Senator King to Mr. McCaffery. “So it seems to me you have a particular opportunity with a closed population to deal with issues like prevention, and method of payment, and accountable care, and all of those kinds of things, that could seriously diminish the cost curve on health care….You are a major buyer of healthcare services and therefore you should be able to drive reforms, in everything from drugs to medical devices to care, and I just, I see this as a terrific opportunity for the, for the country, and I hope you’ll pursue it aggressively.”

Senator King has been an advocate for the healthcare of America’s servicemembers and veterans issues in Washington. Earlier this week, Senator King introduced the Department of Energy Veterans’ Health Initiative Act, a bipartisan bill that would help improve veterans’ health care. The bill seeks to increase collaboration among federal agencies and authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop new technologies that improve our understanding of the health challenges facing veterans. A version of the legislation passed the House of Representatives unanimously in September. In October, he joined Maine veterans at the 21st Annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down at Togus VA Medical Center to highlight services and resources for veterans who are homeless or in transitional housing. In September, he joined a panel featuring veterans’ healthcare experts and caregivers at the Portland Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), to discuss common suicide risk factors and warning signs for suicide and provide information about VA mental health and suicide prevention resources.

Senator King has also fought to emphasize preventive healthcare during his time in the Senate. In December 2017, he urged Senate leaders to continue funding the Prevention and Public Health Fund at current levels, citing the cost-effective nature of preventive healthcare spending. In November 2017, Senator King led a bipartisan group of Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) to reintroduce the Preventive Health Savings Act, legislation that would direct the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive healthcare, including health screenings.

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