Senator Tom Harkin is one of three Democrats asked to head up efforts in the U.S. Senate on a health care reform bill. "This working group that I will chair will focus on wellness and prevention and public health…This has been a longstanding focus of mine. Indeed, I have already introduced comprehensive wellness legislation," Harkin says. "I’m looking forward to having oversight of this part of the bill which I believe is absolutely critical to transforming the way we approach health care in the United States."
According to Harkin, there’s no absolute timeline, but the goal is to get a health care reform "done" by this summer. "It’s not enough to talk about how to extend coverage or how to pay for the bills," Harkin says, "we also need to focus on how we can mobilize our society to prevent diseases and conditions and to produce real wellness — preventing diseases such as obesity and diabetes and heart diseases and some forms of cancer."
Harkin will start holding hearings in December to discuss disease prevention and wellness initiatives that might become part of the overall health care reform package. "We face enormous challenges," Harkin says, "but I’m excited about returning to the senate to help work and to help, hopefully, lead the charge on these key reforms and to help President Obama move his change agenda through the congress." Harkin was elected to a fifth term earlier this month.