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Harkin’s Vision of Preventive Care, Decades in the Making, Becomes Reality

Today’s HHS Rules Begin to Transition America’s Sick Care System to a Genuine Health Care System

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the statement below following today’s announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will require new private health plans to cover evidence-based preventive services and to eliminate co-pays and deductibles for preventive care.  Senator Harkin, who has championed the use of preventive health measures as a means to reduce health care costs for decades, wrote the Prevention and Public Health title of the health reform bill that became law this year.  Today’s regulations implement that legislation.

“Today’s regulations remove a major obstacle for millions of Americans trying to do the right things to stay healthy.  Each year, an untold number of adults and children go without mammograms, colonoscopies, developmental screenings, immunizations and other crucial screenings because of the cost.  This announcement means that cost-effective preventive services such as cancer screenings, nutrition counseling and tobacco cessation programs will become accessible to the patients who need them.  Health professionals will be able to offer these services to you before you get a chronic disease such as cancer or emphysema.

“Chronic diseases, such heart disease and cancer, are a responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths in America, and managing them accounts for the bulk of our health care spending.  Giving people the tools to keep themselves healthy will help millions delay or completely avoid the onset of chronic disease, reducing the toll it takes on our bodies and budgets.
“After decades of fighting for these reforms, I applaud the Obama administration for recognizing the value of preventive care, and for making prevention a hallmark of the health reform bill.  These rules will jumpstart America’s transition from our current sick care system into a genuine health care system - one that is focused on keeping us healthy and out of the hospital in the first place.”

The Prevention and Public Health title of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act creates incentives to prevent chronic disease and rein in costs across the full health care spectrum.  At the federal level, the title creates a new inter-agency council to develop a national health strategy and a dedicated funding stream to support these efforts; at the clinical level it supports doctor training, coverage of preventive services and the elimination of co-pays and deductibles for these services; and at the grassroots level it provides for grants for community initiatives that will support more walkable communities, healthier schools and increased access to nutritious foods in safe environments.

For more information on the Prevention and Public Health title of the health reform bill, please click here.