Washington, DC— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Crushing health care costs leave so many families uninsured or underinsured, and drive far too many into bankruptcy or foreclosure.
“When we discuss our country’s health care crisis with our constituents next week, and when we debate it with our colleagues in this chamber in the coming months, we will talk about how to best relieve that burden.
“There are a lot of good ideas out there. But one of the best ways to bring down those costs is by preventing disease and illness in the first place. Prevention and wellness is based on a simple premise: the less you get sick today, the less you will have to pay tomorrow.
“Part of reforming health care means making it easier for Americans to make healthier choices and live healthier lives. We are far from that goal and need to do a better job of making that possible.
“More than half of all Americans live with at least one chronic condition, and those conditions cause 70 percent of the deaths in America. So doesn’t it make sense to stop them before they start?
“It’s not just a health issue. It’s also an economic issue. Prevention isn’t free, but it’s a lot cheaper to invest in your health before it’s too late.
“Unfortunately, that investment is peanuts right now. We spend only four cents out of every dollar toward preventing disease. That is far too little. Though we spend only four cents of every dollar toward preventing disease, we spend 75 cents of every dollar caring for people chronic conditions.
“It isn’t enough just to treat and cure diseases. We must also prevent disease and help people stay healthy. Reducing the number of us who suffer from chronic diseases will cut costs and help more Americans lead healthier, more productive lives.
“It’s the same principle we bring to health care reform overall. Reform isn’t free, but it’s a lot cheaper to invest in our citizens’ health, our country’s health and our economy’s health before it’s too late.
“That’s why we are committed to: lowering the high costs of health care, ensuring every American has access to that quality, affordable care and letting people choose their own doctors, hospitals and health plans.
“We are committed to protecting existing coverage when it is good, improving it when it is not, and guaranteeing health care for the millions – including nine million children – who have none.
“We are committed to a plan that says: If you like the coverage you have, you can keep it.
“We are committed to reducing health disparities, and encouraging early detection and effective treatments that save lives.
“Just a small investment in prevention and wellness can make a big difference for American families. Reforming health care, doing so the right way and making that investment will help people get sick less often – and even when they do get sick, it will cost them less to get back on their feet.
“Benjamin Franklin famously said that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ For Americans’ physical health and America’s fiscal health, it may be worth much, much more.”