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CBO Scoring Shortchanges Preventive Healthcare Spending

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, September 26, 2012

Last week, Rep. Burgess and Rep. Donna Christenson (D-VI) submitted HR 6482 (Preventive Health Savings Act of 2012), which would allow the CBO to collect and analyze scientific data past the current 10-year window.

The bill defines preventive health as an action to avoid future healthcare costs "that is demonstrated by credible and publicly available epidemiological projection models, incorporating clinical trials or observational studies in humans."

The bill already has 16 co-sponsors, including some Democrats. Other supporters include the Healthcare Leadership Council, whose president, Mary R. Grealy, released a press statement praising the legislation.

"Congress needs to see the full picture of how wellness programs improve population health and not just the initial price tag," she said. "We shouldn't ignore the long-term savings to our healthcare system just because they don't show up within an arbitrary period of time."

This is the second time Rep. Burgess and Rep. Christenson have addressed this issue. A similar bill presented in 2009 died in committee. 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.

The CBO, which prides itself on its nonpartisanship, declined to comment.


Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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1 comments on "CBO Scoring Shortchanges Preventive Healthcare Spending"


Jacob Kuriyan (9/27/2012 at 10:27 AM)
Congressman Burgess is on the right track but his solution is a poor one. He is right in demanding CBO, HHS and CMS to share their data and calculations of savings estimates from preventive care programs. Only then can other experts comment on how reasonable they are and what other adjustments are needed. This happens all the time in economics. The Bureau of labor statistics releases the data and economists nationwide interpret them. The public can then choose the results that sound the most reasonable. But he is wrong in trying to ask CBO to extend the scope of their calculatuions to beyond 10 years. That is absolutely unnecessary. We can estimate the savings from preventive care programs for much shorter periods. But it requires inegnuity and skill.