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Bipartisan Coalition Forms to Call for Chronic Disease to be Key Focus of Health Reform in Connecticut and Nationally

Chronic Disease Costs Connecticut $12.9 Billion in Lost Productivity and $3.3 Billion in Treatment Costs, Totaling $16.2 Billion Annually

Reform Needed to Address Health Costs and Economic Loss Caused by this Crisis

HARTFORD, Conn., April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- -Health experts and statewide leaders representing over 50 business, state agencies, community centers and labor organizations came together in Hartford at the State Capitol at noon today to launch the Connecticut Chapter of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), a coalition committed to making chronic disease prevention and management a major part of comprehensive health and economic reform.

The PFCD is led nationally 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 of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and a former White House health policy advisor.

"It is impossible to contain rising health care costs - and tackle other issues of coverage and quality - without addressing chronic disease through comprehensive health reform," said Thorpe. "President Obama has made it clear that reforming our nation's health care system is a top priority for his Administration. In fact, the current economic downturn has made addressing the issue of health care reform an even more critical priority in 2009," Thorpe explained.

"Right now, health care reform is being debated in Congress for the first time in nearly 15 years and controlling cost must be a key focus of this debate. The single biggest threat to stemming rising costs is the uncontrolled increase in chronic illnesses like diabetes and asthma, and related conditions such as obesity," Thorpe added.

Here in Connecticut, the financial burden of chronic disease is tremendous. A study by the Milken Institute looked at seven common chronic diseases and found that in Connecticut, the total health care costs of these diseases amount to nearly $16.2 billion in 2003. The economic costs - in terms of productivity loss associated with poor health from these chronic diseases - amounted to more than $12.9 billion.

Speaking at today's press event was Candace DeMatteis, Public Policy Director for PFCD; Connecticut State Senator Paul R. Doyle, Majority Whip and Chairman of the Human Services Committee; David L. Katz, MD, Co-Chair of PFCD CT Chapter and Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center; Samantha L. Heller, MS, RD, CDN Co-Chair of PFCD CT Chapter; Paul Bluestein, MD, Chief Medical Officer, ConnectiCare; and Daniel Torres, President, Latino American Chamber of Commerce of Connecticut.

"Any serious proposal to reform our health care system must address preventable chronic disease," said Dr. Katz. "Our state's premier business, labor, health care, faith, and community organizations are dedicated to making preventing and managing chronic diseases the number one health care priority for policymakers."

"The only way to achieve successful health reform is through a bipartisan approach and solutions to address this problem," said DeMatteis. "As Democrats and Republicans alike look at the impact chronic disease has on the federal budget, on employers and on individual households they must realize that the best way to stem rising costs is to stop incurring them in the first place - meaning we need strategies to get Americans healthy and help them stay healthy," she 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 percent of the more than $2 trillion dollars spent each year on health care in the United States.

About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

The PFCD is a national and state-based coalition of hundreds of patient, provider, community, business and labor groups, committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: poorly prevented and mismanaged chronic disease.

The PFCD's mission is to:

  • Challenge policymakers to make fighting chronic disease a top priority and discuss how they will address it in 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

For more information about the PFCD and its partner organizations, please visit:

SOURCE Connecticut Chapter of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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