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Senior Citizen Politics
New Group Says Chronic Disease Should be Key Health
Care Issue in 2008 Election
Chronic disease accounts for 7 in 10 deaths, over
75 cents of every health care dollar spent in U.S.
May 16, 2007 - Chronic diseases are responsible for
seven out of every 10 deaths in the U.S. and a new coalition has formed
behind the goal of making the issue of chronic disease the key health
care issue in the 2008 presidential election. What were described by the
organizations as “leading experts and organizations in the health care,
business, and labor communities” came together yesterday to launch the
Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD).
The PFCD is led by Richard H. Carmona, M.D.,
M.P.H., FACS, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States (2002-2006)
and Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., Chair, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory
University and a former White House health policy advisor.
"We have a 'sick care' system, not a health care
system in this country. That's why this diverse coalition is sounding
the alarm and calling for action," said Carmona.
"Despite any differences we may have on other
issues, we all agree on a single, undeniable fact: 130 million people
suffer from chronic diseases in our nation, and costs are skyrocketing
because of preventable and poorly managed chronic diseases. We can --
and we must -- do something to stop it."
"Americans suffering from chronic diseases, such as
diabetes, asthma, and heart disease can and do have devastating effects
in terms of lives lost, quality of life lost, and tremendous financial
burden. The good news is that the benefits of action could be the
opposite," Carmona added.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of
every 10 deaths in the U.S. -- killing more than 1.7 million Americans
every year. Chronic diseases are also the primary driver of health care
costs, accounting for more than 75% of the $2 trillion dollars spent
each year on health care in the United States.
"Any serious proposal to reform our health care
system must address preventable chronic disease," said Thorpe. "Our
nation's premier business, labor, health care, and community
organizations are dedicated to making chronic diseases like asthma,
diabetes, heart disease, and cancer the number one health care priority
for policymakers and presidential candidates."
Thorpe, along with other high-profile health policy
experts, including former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS) Mark McClellan, M.D., announced the broad-based
effort that aims to change the way our nation approaches chronic disease
at a panel discussion today. Representatives from more than 50
organizations attended the event, which was held at the National Capital
YMCA, a critical partner in the effort.
Leaders from such organizations as the American
Academy of Family Physicians, America's Agenda: Health Care for All,
American Hospital Association, America's pharmaceutical companies,
National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Health
Council, and Service Employee International Union joined Thorpe and
McClellan on the panel.
During the event, Thorpe and McClellan delivered a
keynote presentation titled "An Unhealthy Truth" -- an overview of the
crisis of chronic disease and the lack of awareness among the majority
of Americans about the problem and potential solutions. Key facts in the
-- 30% of the increase in health spending since
1987 is due to doubling of the rate of obesity during that time;
-- Two-thirds of spending over the past 25 years is
attributable to the rise in rates of treated chronic disease; and
-- Only a small fraction of Americans, fewer than
one in six, comprehend the magnitude of the problem: that chronic
diseases represent more than 70% of the deaths in the U.S. and more than
75% of health care costs.
"There is a lot of debate about how to pay for
health care, but there is a lot of agreement about the need for better
prevention and management of chronic diseases that can yield better
results for patients and overall cost savings," said McClellan. "With
the presidential election coming up, we intend to do all we can to put
the focus on the critical need to reduce the burden of chronic disease.
It's essential for our health and for the sustainability of our health
In order to bring the issue of chronic disease to
the forefront of the national dialogue on health care, the PFCD is
modeling its outreach strategy and tactics after a modern-day
presidential campaign. Thorpe and other national partners will
participate in the launches of state chapters over the next few days and
weeks in high-profile presidential primary states, such as Iowa, New
Hampshire, and South Carolina. The launches of state-based PFCD
campaigns will jump-start the PFCD's grassroots campaign, which includes
voter and candidate education and media outreach. While the initial
phase of the campaign targets early presidential primary states, the
PFCD will continue spreading its message through the 2008 presidential
election and beyond.
Paid media is a critical part of the PFCD's
awareness-building efforts. Print, radio, billboard, and other highly
visible outdoor advertisements aim to educate consumers and policymakers
on the issue of chronic disease. The ads will explicitly ask voters to
hold presidential candidates responsible for addressing the issue.
Starting today, the PFCD will also run an extensive
online advertising campaign to drive consumers and policymakers to the
coalition's innovative Web site (http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/)
where they can:
>> Sign a petition to voice support for the fight
against chronic disease;
>> Learn the appropriate ways to contact
>> Explore model programs that are successful in
fighting chronic disease and improving health in communities across the
>> Access recent research conducted by the PFCD and
other organizations, as well as fact sheets and toolkits that offer
helpful tips on healthy living at home and in the workplace;
>> Stay informed with the latest news on chronic
disease, health and wellness, and health care policies; and
>> Keep tabs on current legislation that may affect
the prevention and treatment of chronic disease in the United States.
About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD)
is a national bipartisan coalition of patients, providers, community
organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts
committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death,
disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease.
The PFCD's mission is to:
-- Challenge policymakers - in particular, the
2008 presidential candidates -- to make the issue of chronic disease a
top priority and articulate how they will address the issue through
their health care proposals
-- Educate the public about chronic disease and
potential solutions for individuals, communities, and the nation
-- Mobilize Americans to call for change in how
policymakers, governments, employers, health institutions, and other
entities approach chronic disease
Leaders in the effort represent more than 50
leading organizations from across health care, business and labor
including Aetna, American Academy of Family Physicians, Alliance for
Aging Research, American Academy of Physician Assistants, American
College of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Preventive Medicine,
American Hospital Association, American Pharmacists Association
Foundation, Disease Management Association of America, Kerr Drug,
Integrated Benefits Institute, International Health, Racquet &
Sportsclub Association, NAACP, Milken Institute, National Association of
Manufacturers, National Medical Association, Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America, Service Employees International Union, Sheet
Metal Workers International Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and
YMCA of the USA, among others.
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