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May 09, 2019

King Introduces Bill to Encourage, Incentivize Preventive Healthcare

Senator Notes Twin Benefits of Cutting Costs While Improving Health and Quality of Life

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to introduce 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 preventive health 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 in order to provide a better understanding of the legislation’s long-term effect on the nation’s healthcare spending.

“Preventive care can not only saves lives, but can also help Americans avoid chronic diseases before they wreak havoc on our health and our wallets,” said Senator King. “Right now, Congress measures the financial impacts of preventive health programs in a relatively narrow ten-year window, but the full benefits of prevention sometimes can’t be seen for decades. If we’re going to accurately measure the impact of prevention, we need to be looking further ahead – this legislation will do that, and ensure that Congress is pursuing long-term, cost-effective solutions rather than short-term savings.”

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, and treating affected patients accounts for over 90 percent of our nation’s $3.3 trillion annual medical expenditures. Many of these diseases – including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity– are easily detected and largely avoidable through screenings, routine testing, and early interventions. Under current law, however, the CBO does not take into account the long-term cost-savings associated with preventive health initiatives. The Preventive Health Savings Act would direct the CBO to more accurately reflect the cost-savings of preventive health care legislation by allowing Congressional Committees – including the Budget; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Finance; Ways and Means; and Energy and Commerce Committees – to request additional analyses of the budgetary impact of preventive healthcare legislation. By allowing the CBO to widen its budget window to better capture the costs-savings from preventive care, the legislation encourages a sensible review of health policy in order to promote public health and incentivizes Congress to invest in proven methods of saving lives and money.?

Senator King has long advocated the benefits and financial efficiency of preventive healthcare. 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. 


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