January 28, 2005

Crapo Pushes Rural Health, Men's Health Office With HHS Secretary-Designate

Crapo to vote on Leavitt nomination as member of Finance Committee

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo told Health and Human Services Secretary-Designate Mike Leavitt that improvements to rural healthcare, such as telehealth and federal compensation issues, should be a priority if Leavitt is confirmed this month as HHS Secretary. Crapo, as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, is scheduled to vote on Leavitt's nomination on January 19th. The two met this week in Crapo's Washington, DC office. Crapo also told Leavitt he would like to see federal emphasis be placed for a new Office of Men's Health. As a prostate cancer survivor, Crapo said establishing such an office would bring needed attention to men's health issues and provide a clearinghouse that coordinates awareness and prevention initiatives. As the founder of the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Congressional Caucus, Crapo also asked Leavitt to consider making pulmonary rehabilitation coverage available to Medicare beneficiaries through a national coverage decision by HHS. "We have made great strides in efforts to improve rural health care by the use of telehealth and distance consultation methods bringing the latest medical technology and assistance to rural states and I am confident that, if confirmed, Secretary Leavitt would continue that effort," Crapo said. "We must also expand efforts in areas that garner less attention but are just as important-regarding men's health and extending benefits to the millions who suffer from chronic lung ailments." Crapo is also co-chair of the Congressional Heart and Stroke Caucus and on the Steering Committee on Telehealth. Leavitt, the former Utah governor, would leave his post as EPA Administrator and become HHS Secretary if the Senate Finance Committee and full Senate vote to approve his nomination by President George W. Bush. # # #