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House Introduces Bill to Get Better Data on Prevention Savings

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Rep. Donna Christensen (D-VI) introduced legislation that would allow the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)—the federal agency that estimates how much a bill would cost to enact and its affect on revenue—to accurately estimate the cost of policies that promote healthy lifestyles.

As told to the Partnerships to Fight Chronic Disease, Rep. Burgess (who is also a physician) explains that the CBO develops cost estimates in ten-year increments. “The problem is that the advantages of preventive healthcare spending for chronic diseases do not always fit neatly into that time frame. Programs to reduce the obesity rate, or to trim the increase in diabetes cases, or to keep diabetic blood sugars under control may need longer than 10 years to begin to demonstrate their full economic value,” states the article. 

Burgess also told the PFCD that it is critical for the CBO to be able to accurately reflect the impact of health prevention. “Burgess notes that chronic disease care accounts for 70% of healthcare spending, or about $1.6 trillion annually. In this era of care coordination and care management, he explains, the savings from preventive care is ‘undisputed’ by experts. Now, Burgess says, it is time for CBO analysis to reflect how preventive healthcare spending can begin to contain costs and provide long-term savings.”

Read the full article

The legislation, HR 6482, would allow the CBO to collect data beyond the 10-year period. Reps. Burgess and Christensen, and 16 other House members currently support the bill.

IHRSA, who helped get the bill introduced, sees it as step in the right direction. “As more policy makers look to primary prevention measures to contain costs, it is very important that the data on which they base their decisions paints a full picture,” said Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy. “The big costs savings from prevention are there, they just don’t always show up in the first ten-years,” Durkin notes.

IHRSA has also signed onto a letter of support for the bill, organized by the Healthcare Leadership Council.

This is the second time Rep. Burgess and Rep. Christensen have addressed this issue. A similar bill presented in 2009 died in committee. As PFCD writes, “Back then the role of preventive services in healthcare was not as much a part of the national dialog as it is now. It may seem like tilting at windmills to present a bill this late in the session with Congress focused more on elections that legislation, but HR 6482 will hopefully generate some interest in a topic that deserves our attention.”

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