News Releases

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Isakson to Leavitt: Lower Health Costs,
Study Rx Rebate Program, Work With CDC
Senator Praises Leavitt as 'Outstanding Nominee'

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) today urged President Bush's nominee for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to focus on lowering healthcare costs and studying the feasibility of a prescription drug rebate program for Medicare.

Isakson also used the nomination hearing for former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt to praise Leavitt for publicly acknowledging the importance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta.

"The Congress and the President during the last four years have done a remarkable job in funding the new construction, the laboratory work, and the hardening of what is really the world's public health asset," said Isakson. "I appreciate your acknowledgement of that, and I look forward to working with you to continue to grow the CDC, its capabilities and its reach around this country and around the world."

Leavitt's nomination is expected to be voted on by the full Senate later this week. Isakson, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, will vote to confirm him.

"Michael Leavitt has my vote because he is an outstanding nominee. I have a lot of respect for the work he did as Governor of Utah," Isakson said.

Isakson told Leavitt he wants to work with him to determine whether it would be feasible to apply to Medicare the prescription drug rebate program based on volume that now is used in Medicaid. Such a rebate system would go a long way in reducing costs, Isakson said.

"Using the tremendous leverage of the government has saved millions in Medicaid costs. It should do the same for Medicare," Isakson said.

Isakson praised Leavitt's use of technology and distance learning as Governor of Utah and emphasized the importance of implementing those kinds of cost-saving measures in the healthcare system.

"As we have spiraling costs of healthcare, one of the imbedded costs that is growing is the paperwork cost and the redundancy of doing the same thing over and over again," said Isakson. "That is one of the components of the cost of healthcare that we can foster quickly to help bring down some of the costs and actually improve the quality of information and care."

Please click here to listen to an excerpt from Isakson's statement.