For Immediate Release: February 16, 2012
TFAH Statement on Cuts to Prevention Fund to Finance the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate: the Agreement Sells Out America’s Health
Washington, DC, February 16, 2012 – The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) believes the concept of eliminating shortfalls resulting from Medicare’s flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula with cuts to the nation’s first dedicated Prevention and Public Health Fund is short-sighted and counterintuitive.
The following is a statement from Richard Hamburg, Deputy Director of TFAH:
“Cutting prevention to pay for doctors’ visits is illogical – prevention is the best way we have to actually improve the health of Americans and reduce their need to go to the doctor in the first place.
With this reported Congressional agreement, we’re resigning the country to a future of higher rates of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and higher health care costs. If we continue to have a sick care system, we will never get health care spending under control, our children will continue to be at risk of living shorter and less healthy lives than their parents, and the economy will suffer. Quite simply, using prevention funds to “doc fix” is coming at the expense of their patients’ health, while also doing nothing to bend the cost curve on healthcare expenditures.
There were infinite other options for addressing the problem, and it’s disappointing that Congress’ solution for a temporary economic stop gap included passing the buck to the next, less healthy, generation.
It is clear that prevention is the key to lowering health care costs and creating a long-term path to a healthier and economically sound America. The Prevention and Public Health Fund is providing resources to support evidence-based strategies that can achieve significant gains such as reducing average body mass index (BMI). A new analysis by TFAH shows that reducing the average BMI by just five percent could lead to nearly $30 billion in health care savings in just five years – not to mention improve the quality of life of many Americans. The analysis shows that cuts to the Prevention Fund guarantee the country will be now be paying more for obesity-related health costs over the next ten years.
Despite the cuts, the Prevention Fund is still having a significant impact in improving health in the United States – the Fund will continue to provide over $13 billion of new support for disease prevention over the next 10 years and $20 billion over the subsequent 10 years. By supporting evidence-based, locally-decided programs around the country, we are on a path that will transform the nation’s sick care system into a real health care system. We must work with Congress to ensure our investments in prevention are maintained and continued.”
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