During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Health and Human Services (HHS) nominee Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) reiterated his commitment to investing in wellness and prevention and changing the “paradigm from illness to wellness.” “Wellness has to be cool and prevention has to be a hot thing,” Dashle said.
Indeed, compared to scientific recommendations, “too few Americans receive preventive services.” According to one study, for instance, “only half of recommended clinical preventive services are provided to adults.” In 2002, the United States spent $132 billion treating Americans with diabetes, but just $70 billion on the prevention of all diseases.
Correcting this imbalance could build a healthier nation and save health care dollars. In fact, experts estimate that just ensuring that every child receives every routine vaccination could reduce direct and indirect health care costs by up to $40 billion over time.
Luckily, Daschle’s deputy at the HHS, former CAPAF Senior Fellow Jeanne Lambrew, has promoted the idea of a Wellness Trust, a concept premised on the notion that “disease prevention is more like homeland security than health insurance: everyone needs it, no one notices if it works, and it depends on persistent, strong leadership and systems“:
The proposed Wellness Trust would dramatically increase the nation’s emphasis on prevention. It would create a broad-based, 21 st century system, including population-based interventions outside of the traditional bounds of the health care system. It would use consolidated financing and information technology to expand and coordinate services over a lifetime and across care settings. While elements of the Wellness Trust could be implemented immediately, it should be an essential component of any effort to reform the U.S. health care system.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced Lambrew’s Wellness Trust in legislation. To read more about the Wellness Trust, click here.