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House Budget tees up preventive health legislation

Feb 6, 2024
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Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The House Budget Committee on Tuesday is due to mark up a bill that would change how the Congressional Budget Office scores health care legislation dealing with preventive services.

Why it matters: The Preventive Health Savings Act has potentially huge implications for cost and coverage decisions surrounding blockbuster anti-obesity drugs and services like mammograms.

  • Republicans are often against bills that would increase Medicare spending and the revised scoring method could potentially soften GOP opposition to some policy changes.

Details: The bill is bipartisan, co-sponsored by Reps. Michael Burgess and Diana DeGette in the House. A companion measure in the Senate is sponsored by Ben Cardin and Mike Crapo.

  • It's seen as a legacy piece of legislation for Burgess, who is retiring at the end of this Congress. He was the original sponsor of the bill and has pushed for action on it since 2012.
  • The legislation would require the CBO, when directed by an appropriate committee, to take into account how much money could hypothetically be saved by using preventive health services, and account for that when issuing cost scores for bills.
  • It would also allow for the CBO to calculate budgetary effects past its customary 1o-year window and factor two additional 10-year periods in accounting for how savings could happen over time.
  • That means bills could be scored over a 10, 20 or 30-year period.

Of note: Lawmakers say the bill defines preventive health "narrowly."

  • But the language still leaves a broad number of services that could be counted while stipulating there must be strong scientific evidence to back their efficacy.

What they're saying: Burgess has called the legislation "a responsible and life-saving approach that will ensure that the government calculates the savings of preventative health."

  • "Chronic diseases account for over seventy percent of all healthcare spending, and this legislation will help bend the cost curve and provide long-term cost savings."
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