JANUARY 10, 2022 (Arlington, VA) — U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), has been selected as an inaugural recipient of the Congressional Bone Health Champion award by the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation. The award recognizes Members of Congress who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, advocacy, and commitment to protect and improve the bone health of Americans.
Senator Collins’ leadership on osteoporosis and bone health has been long standing and unwavering. She has long worked to improve access to bone health screening through introduction of legislation to assure adequate Medicare reimbursement. She has been an outspoken advocate for greater attention and higher priority given to bone health throughout the lifetime. She has made powerful efforts to improve Medicare’s incentives so that those who have suffered osteoporotic fractures receive model post-fracture care proven effective in reducing additional fractures.
Senator Collins is the lead sponsor of bipartisan legislation, the Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2021. This bill aims to make sure more Medicare beneficiaries get screened for osteoporosis and thereby reduce the number who suffer fractures and second fractures. A 2021 report by the independent actuarial firm Milliman report found that only 9% of women who suffer a fracture are screened for osteoporosis within six months of a new fracture. Other analyses have shown that Medicare payment rates have been cut by 70% and in the last 5 years the osteoporosis diagnosis of older women has declined by 18%.
“Osteoporosis is often called ‘the silent disease’ because bone loss usually occurs gradually over the years without symptoms. The public health risk cannot be overstated. Tens of millions of Americans either have osteoporosis or they are at an increased risk due to low bone mass,” said Senator Collins. “I have strongly supported early diagnosis and treatment efforts that are proven to dramatically reduce fracture rates. I am honored to receive this recognition from the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to preventing osteoporosis and ensuring Americans with this disease receive the support they need.”
“We’re extremely grateful to Senator Collins for her leadership in improving the bone health of all Americans,” said Claire Gill, CEO of the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation. “Bone health is crucial to your overall health. Congress needs to prioritize bone health on our nation’s healthcare agenda, and pass legislation to improve bone health screening. We know it will have a dramatic impact on improving quality of life and reducing costly osteoporotic fractures,” concluded Gill.
Bone health and osteoporosis have an enormous impact on Americans. An estimated 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass, and studies suggest that approximately 1 in 2 women and up to 1 in 4 men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. Approximately 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries suffered 2.1 million osteoporotic fractures in 2016 and osteoporosis-related bone fractures are responsible for more hospitalizations than heart attacks, strokes, or breast cancer. In Senator Collins’ state of Maine some 9,000 Medicare beneficiaries suffered over 10,500 osteoporotic fractures in 2016. The total annual cost for osteoporotic fractures among Medicare beneficiaries was $57 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to over $95 billion in 2040 without reforms, as the population ages.
About the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation
The Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation, formerly the National Osteoporosis Foundation, is the leading health organization dedicated to preventing osteoporosis and broken bones, promoting strong bones for life, and reducing human suffering through programs of public and clinician awareness, education, advocacy and research. Established in 1984, BHOF is the nation’s largest health organization dedicated to osteoporosis and bone health.