January 28, 2005


HHS Secretary-designate agrees before Senate Finance Committee

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is asking Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Michael Leavitt to bring a new focus on pulmonary health issues if he is confirmed as HHS Secretary. Crapo, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee beginning Leavittâ??s confirmation hearings today, expects Leavitt will be confirmed. The Committee did not vote today but a vote on Leavittâ??s nomination is expected later this month.â??Chronic-obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the fourth leading cause of death in our nation. While statistics show improvement in other chronic health areas, pulmonary health continues to decline. Annual per-capita expenditures for Medicare beneficiaries with COPD are two-and-a-half times higher than those without COPD,â?? Crapo said. â??I want Secretary-designate Leavitt to bring an increased emphasis on COPD as well as other issues, especially menâ??s health issues, to HHS to reflect the serious nature of these illnesses. HHS and other federal partners can set an example for men who are reluctant to seek treatment for themselves, such as getting regular checkups for prostate cancer.â??During todayâ??s hearing, Leavitt told Crapo he was already aware of Crapoâ??s campaign to being more attention and resources to COPD. He pledged that if confirmed he would make COPD issues a priority.Crapo encouraged Leavitt to pursue improvements in rural health care, such as telehealth. He recommended that Leavitt research ways to bring health care costs under control, such as the increased use of home health care methods for chronically-ill patients and other efforts to allow for flexibility for state programs and health insurance. Crapo says Leavittâ??s successful tenure as EPA Administrator and experience at the state level as Governor of Utah should serve him well as HHS Secretary.# # #