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Bipartisan Coalition Forms to Call for Chronic Disease to be Key Focus of Health Reform in Indiana and Nationally
Date:5/7/2009

Over 3.6 million cases of seven common chronic diseases were reported in Indiana in 2003

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

INDIANAPOLIS, May 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Leading experts and organizations in the health care, business, faith and labor communities came together today to launch the Indiana 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.

In Indiana, PFCD has a distinguished panel of co-chairs including Marion County Safety Director Scott Newman, National Chairman of the American Diabetes Association George Huntley and Chief Operating Officer of Pop Weaver Popcorn Will Weaver.

The PFCD partners and Executive Director, Ken Thorpe, believe that 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.

"President Obama has made it clear that reforming our nation's health care system is a top priority for his Administration," said Thorpe. "In fact, the current economic downturn has made addressing the issue of health care reform an even more critical priority in 2009."

"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 said.

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.

Here in Indiana, the financial burden of chronic disease is tremendous. A study by the Milken Institute looked at seven common chronic diseases and found that in Indiana, the total health care costs to treat these diseases amounted to nearly $6.7 billion in 2003. The economic costs -- in terms of productivity loss associated with poor health from these chronic diseases -- amounted to more than $22.7 billion.

"Any serious proposal to reform our health care system must address preventable chronic disease," said George Huntley, National Chairman of the American Diabetes Association and PFCD Indiana Chapter Co-Chair. "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 Thorpe. "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."

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: http://www.fightchronicdisease.org.

    Press Contact: Teresa Buckley
    (317) 644-1528
    tbuckley@perituspr.com


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SOURCE Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
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