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October 10, 2019

Senator Angus King Hosts Panel Discussion in Bangor on Prevention

Discussion identified ways to think “Prevention First” and increase long-term wellness for Maine People

BANGOR, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) hosted a panel discussion in Bangor with local healthcare providers and public wellness experts on the best ways to use prevention strategies to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. The discussion consisted of two panels: the first panel, ‘Effective Prevention Strategies for Families and Children’, included Dr. Anand Parekh, Bipartisan Policy Center; Holly Collins, Mercer; Jamie Comstock, Bangor Public Health; and Lori Dwyer, Penobscot Community Health Care. The next panel, ‘Prevention in the Aging Community’, featured Dr. Susan Wehry, Geriatrics, University of New England (UNE); Lori Parham, Maine AARP; Diane Dickerson, Bangor Region YMCA; and Dr. Cliff Singer, Northern Light Health. Both sessions included question and answer sessions with the audience.

“Often lost in the debates about who should pay for healthcare is how much we pay for healthcare – and it’s just too much,” said Senator King. “Americans pay the highest per capita costs for healthcare, but our health outcomes don’t reflect that. We need to fix that, and we can start by incentivizing healthy lifestyles. The cheapest medical procedure is the one that doesn’t need to happen – so, let’s figure out ways to prevent issues before they get serious. The voices of today’s discussion had great insights on how to find solutions that will improve both our health and our wallets, and I’ll take their thoughts back to Washington as I continue leading on legislation to make prevention a healthcare priority.”

Senator King is a champion for prevention policies across the board – including advocating for the benefits and financial efficiency of preventive healthcare, which can 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. 

Earlier today, Senator King joined Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), Representative Jared Golden (D-Maine) and federal officials from the Department of Energy, Oakridge National Labs, and U.S. Army at the University of Maine for the unveiling ceremony of the world’s largest polymer 3D printer and largest 3D printed object. The 3D printer will be able to utilize biobased materials, creating new opportunities for Maine’s forest economy.

“Maine is the most forested state in the nation, and now we have a 3D printer big enough to make use of this bountiful resource!” said Senator King. “Today marks the latest innovative investment in Maine’s forest economy, which will serve to increase sustainability, advance the future of bio-based manufacturing, and diversify our forest products industry. This is huge opportunity for the state of Maine, and I’m grateful to everyone — especially the University of Maine and the FOR/Maine initiative — for their work make this day a reality.”

Senator King is a strong supporter of efforts to revitalize Maine’s forest economy to further economic opportunities for Maine people. He was key in establishing the Forest Opportunity Roadmap Maine (FOR/ME) Initiative, an industry-led initiative that is helping to diversify the state’s wood products businesses, attract investments, support research and development, and develop greater economic prosperity for rural communities impacted by mill closures. The FOR/ME Initiative was funded as a result of the Economic Development Assessment Team (EDAT) requested by Senators Collins and King in 2016, with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration in order to create strategies for job growth and economic development in Maine’s rural communities. FOR/ME developed and is implementing a roadmap and action plan for the development of new markets for Maine’s forest resources, including the strengthening of existing forest products manufacturing, the attraction of investment in emerging technology, and the utilization of forest products residuals in CHP biomass plants, microgrids, modern thermal systems, and new forest products development. The FOR/ME Initiative has already resulted in multiple funding opportunities for Maine organizations and new investment in Maine’s forest economy.

Senator King will finish his day by delivering remarks at the Piscataquis Chamber Annual Meeting in Dover-Foxcroft this evening. 

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