Paulsen, Kind, Griffin, and Fudge Introduce Bill to Help Lower Medicare Costs by Keeping Seniors Healthy

Statement

By:  Marcia Fudge Tim Griffin Ron Kind Erik Paulsen
Date: Aug. 1, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Recognizing the need for innovative and cost-effective solutions to deal with the growing cost of Medicare, U.S. Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN), Ron Kind (D-WI), Tim Griffin (R-AR), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH), today introduced legislation that experts say could save Medicare billions by helping American seniors get and stay healthy.

In an effort to bring down health care costs, U.S. employers are increasingly turning to workplace wellness programs that reward employees who engage in healthy behaviors. The Medicare "Better Health Rewards" program would give Medicare beneficiaries a chance to participate in a similar and 100% voluntary wellness program.

Using such health indicators as diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and smoking status, participating providers and doctors would use information gathered during annual wellness visits to provide patients with achievable health goals, a roadmap to reach those goals, and incentives to stay motivated. Funding for the "Better Health Rewards" Program is generated as participating seniors get healthy and use less healthcare services. Beneficiaries who meet certain benchmarks for improving their health indicators will be eligible for a "Better Health Reward" of up to $200 after the second year and $400 after the third year.

"We all understand the unsustainable path Medicare is currently on, and the urgent need for innovative new ways to strengthen and fortify this essential program," said Rep. Paulsen. "The Better Health Rewards Program is a cost-effective plan to reduce Medicare costs by rewarding participants who work to improve their health. By focusing on leading health indicators such as blood pressure and cholesterol, and providing patients with the tools they need to get and stay healthy, we can help American seniors live longer healthier lives and strengthen Medicare."

"Health care spending is the fastest growing area of the federal budget," said Rep. Kind. "This is a commonsense bill that focuses not only on an innovative way to get these costs under control and strengthen Medicare in the long-run but also gives our seniors an incentive to pursue a healthier lifestyle. It's a win-win in my book."

"Medicare spending is unsustainable and failure to reform and save this critical program threatens the health and retirement security of our seniors," said Rep. Griffin. "The Better Health Rewards program rewards seniors for choosing healthier lifestyles in order to avoid the type of preventable, chronic conditions that contribute to three quarters of our nation's health care spending. I'm proud to be an original cosponsor of this innovative, patient-centered and bipartisan legislation."

"The Better Health Rewards Program has the potential to be a tremendous success for Medicare and the American people, providing seniors and others with health care security," said Rep. Fudge. "Its Incentive program will help citizens become invested in their own health and cultivate healthy habits. In terms of our economy these programs cut costs, and yield actual services, not high premiums. I am proud to co-sponsor legislation that will ensure older Americans reap the rewards of better health at a lower cost."