The Honorable Bob Graham
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Graham:
The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) endorses your legislation, S.1618, the Medicare Wellness Act of 1999, which would significantly expand screening and counseling services under the Medicare program, as well as encourage individuals to be more responsible for their health status. Further, we agree with the premise of this bill, namely that early medical intervention and patient education are important to reducing the morbidity rate of many diseases and improving patient outcomes.
Specifically, S.1618 would expand Medicare coverage to include: screening for hypertension; counseling for tobacco cessation; screening for glaucoma; counseling for hormone replacement therapy; screening for vision and hearing loss; expanded screening and counseling for osteoporosis; and screening for cholesterol. In addition, the bill would establish a health education program to encourage individuals 50 and older to adopt healthier habits and thereby reduce their risks of contracting a serious illness.
AACC recently initiated a public education campaign, similar to your Wellness proposal, to help patients take charge of their personal health. The Health Indicators Five or HI 5 campaign encourages patients to learn, understand and monitor the results from five common blood tests used as diagnostic tools in most annual physical exams. These tests-glucose, cholesterol, prostate specific antigen, thyroid stimulating hormone and hemoglobin-are often used to diagnose diabetes, heart disease, prostate cancer and other life threatening illnesses.
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and House Minority Whip David Bonior (D-MI) have endorsed AACC's HI 5 campaign. Enclosed are two brochures describing our efforts. This information is available on our website at http://www.aacc.org and we have circulated thousands of these materials to the general public upon request.
By way of background, AACC is the principal association of professional laboratory scientists--including MDs, PhDs and medical technologists. AACC's members develop and use chemical concepts, procedures, techniques and instrumentation in health-related investigations and work in hospitals, independent laboratories and the diagnostics industry nationwide. The AACC's objectives are to further the public interest and educational activities and to help maintain high professional standards.
If you have any questions or we may be of any assistance, please call me at (405) 271-3571 or Vince Stine, Director, Government Affairs, at (202) 835-8721.
K. Michael Parker, PhD