WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are asking Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price to work with them to fix the healthcare system so it keeps people healthy, rather than just treating them when they are sick.
The letter notes that the U.S. lags behind on effectiveness of healthcare – spending more money treating disease than preventing it. The Senators asked Price to form a commission of experts to look at how people get their care and how we can improve the system to keep all Americans healthy, no matter where they live, their race, or their socioeconomic status. The Senators’ bipartisan letter comes as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee holds hearings on stabilizing the healthcare system.
“We spend a lot of money treating people once they are sick, but let’s talk about how we can prevent them from getting sick in the first place,” said Brown. “We should be focusing on breaking down the barriers Ohioans face when it comes to staying healthy, otherwise we will never overcome our fights against addiction or infant mortality.”
“Our goal is to improve health outcomes for all Americans,” said Dr. Cassidy. “It is always better to prevent disease than to treat it on the back end. I say that as a doctor and as a senator.”
Full text of the letter is below and available HERE.
September 6, 2017
The Honorable Thomas Price
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Dear Secretary Price:
We write to express our interest in working with you to convene a diverse commission of national health care experts to develop a strategy for improving and advancing our nation’s health care delivery system so that it can effectively meet the needs of all Americans.
In many ways, the United States is the envy of the world when it comes to health care. We are home to the world’s best hospitals, clinicians, and innovators. We lead the world in prioritizing medical research, and we are pioneers in the development of therapies and technologies – the result is that we have both a system of health care education that is among the best in the world and the globe’s preeminent public health watchdog – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, in other ways, our country continues to lag behind others when it comes to health care efficiency and effectiveness. In 2016, we spent more than 18 percent of our national gross domestic product (GDP) on health care, yet we spent more to treat disease than prevent it in the first place. Our system of care delivery is complicated and remains siloed. We struggle to address health disparities that divide us by race, socioeconomic status, and geography, and our public health outcomes are stagnant.
Despite efforts from policy makers, clinicians, and communities to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing within the constraints of our current system, it is time to recognize the need for a new approach to health care delivery in the United States. To that end, we urge you to work with us to convene a diverse group of health care experts, including community health partners, providers, patients, payers, and clinicians that will:
- evaluate our current health care delivery system;
- assess the improvements our nation must make to reduce disparities and deliver the highest quality, most affordable care to all Americans;
- encourage innovation in clinical and community approaches;
- improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities; and
- build a thoughtful framework for future health care reforms.
We look forward to working with you to identify innovative thought leaders from around the country to join these discussions and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this initiative further.
United States Senator Sherrod Brown
United States Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D.