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For Immediate Release: November 12, 2008

Trust for America’s Health Welcomes Inclusion of Wellness and Prevention Measures in Baucus Health Plan

Washington, D.C. - Trust for America's Health (TFAH) applauds the recommendation of Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today to make prevention "the cornerstone of the health care system rather than an afterthought." The Baucus plan specifically promotes grants that would implement evidence-based prevention programs in communities.  TFAH recently released a study, Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities, which found that found that a small strategic investment of $10 per person per year in proven community-based programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use could save the country more than $16 billion annually within five years.  This is a return of $5.60 for every $1.

"Prevention must become a higher national priority.  Helping Americans become healthier is the best way to drive down health care costs and ensure our workforce is competitive in the global economy," said Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH.  "Trust for America's Health commends Sen. Baucus for his leadership in improving the health of Americans, and we look forward to working with Congress and the incoming Administration to ensure prevention is a central component of health care reform."

TFAH welcomed many of Sen. Baucus's specific proposals, but especially encouraged support for the following elements of his plan:

  • It establishes a RightChoices program, a temporary program to provide the uninsured with access to a set of proven preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.  Based on a patient's risk, a care plan would be developed.  The RightChoices card would provide referral to community programs such as smoking cessation and nutrition programs that have demonstrated success in changing and supporting healthier choices.
  • The plan would provide grants to states or communities to implement innovative, evidence-based prevention and wellness programs at the local level to encourage stakeholders to work together and support healthy lifestyles. The programs would employ best practices identified by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and the Task Force on Community Preventive Services.
  • The plan would also support efforts by small businesses to create healthier work environments with tax credits or other subsidies for proven wellness programs.
  • It encourages a more coordinated national strategy to prevent chronic disease and reduce obesity, acknowledging the role played by access to insurance, nutritious food and safe places to exercise. It encourages Congress to authorize a study to identify the various federal programs that can help prevent the development of chronic disease.

Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org

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Contact

Liz Richardson, 202-223-9870 x21, lrichardson@tfah.org