November 04, 2009

Senators, Health Care Advocates Discuss Benefits of Prevention and Wellness Efforts in Health Insurance Reform

WASHINGTON – Democratic Senators Tom Harkin and Tom Udall joined Larry Hausner, CEO of the American Diabetes Association and Bobby Pestronk, Executive Director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials to discuss the benefits of including prevention and wellness measures in health insurance reform.

A focus on prevention and wellness policies is necessary to transform our current “sick care” system into a true health care system. With just a small investment in prevention and wellness, we can make it easier for Americans to make healthier choices, avoid chronic disease, and live long, healthy, and productive lives.

“Our aim in health reform is to recreate America as a genuine wellness society – a society focused on healthful lifestyles and preventing the chronic diseases that take such a toll on our bodies and our budgets,” said Harkin. “Our bill removes the barriers to a healthy lifestyle by putting a sharp new emphasis on fitness, physical activity, good nutrition and disease prevention – in short, keeping people out of the hospital in the first place. It does not just tinker at the edges, it changes the paradigm to convert our ‘sick care’ system in a genuine health care system.”

Udall said: "The need for preventive medicine has never been greater and the reform we are fighting for today will reverse the systematic neglect of this key component of health care. We have solid evidence that we can spend less on health care while saving more lives by implementing preventive measures. Of the more than $2 trillion the U.S. spends on health care each year, only 4 cents of every dollar is invested in prevention. I'm pleased that the Senate health reform legislation will include significant new investments in preventive care that will result in lower costs and improved health for all Americans."

"Diabetes is not merely a condition,” said Hausner. “It is an epidemic. Americans need access to clinical preventive services, such as diabetes screenings for those at risk, and to prevention programs in their communities that help them lead healthy lifestyles. This is why it is critical that health reform makes a strong investment in prevention and wellness."

Pestronk said: “Is there anyone who would rather be sick? And if we could prevent illness, shouldn’t we? Health is a foundation for a high quality of life. It improves the productivity of workers, the ability to learn, and the national defense. It’s time to put the ‘health’ back into health care.”