Healthcare Leadership Council Announces Support for Legislation Recognizing Long-Term Economic Benefits of Wellness, Disease Prevention Programs

Measure Introduced by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Tom Udall (D-NM) Will Enable Federal Government to “Go on Offense against Chronic Disease”

WASHINGTON – The Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives from the nation’s leading healthcare companies in all health sectors, today announced its support for legislation that would change the way the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) measures the costs and benefits of wellness and disease prevention programs, thus enabling Washington to utilize innovative approaches to curb the growth of chronic disease.

The legislation, introduced today by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Tom Udall (D-NM), would allow CBO, utilizing scientific data, to provide information to lawmakers on the budget savings generated by preventive health initiatives beyond the conventional 10-year budget scoring period.

HLC President Mary R. Grealy said a measure like this is urgently needed so that Congress can support evidence-based programs to combat the escalation of chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

“The CBO scoring window has been an obstacle in the war against chronic disease,” she said. “A program that can, for example, reduce obesity and curb the growth in diabetes may not display its full return on investment in the first decade.  Savings are generated for years beyond that window when individuals don’t suffer renal failure, stroke, extreme hypertension or any of the other health conditions associated with diabetes.  Congress needs not just the immediate price tag of a disease prevention initiative, but the full picture of its impact on population health and health system savings.”

She added, “This bill can change the playing field.  Right now, the health system is spending trillions of dollars to treat chronic illnesses in patients.  Changing the CBO scoring rules will better enable the federal government to go on offense against chronic disease, investing in wellness instead of simply addressing symptoms.”