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Coalition Commends Senators Baucus, Grassley for Including Prevention, Wellness of Chronic Disease in Recent Paper on Coverage Policy Options

WASHINGTON, May 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) commends Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and Ranking Member Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) for prioritizing prevention and management of chronic diseases and their risk factors in their most recent white paper, "Expanding Health Care Coverage: Proposals to Provide Affordable Coverage to All Americans."

The Partnership noted however, in comments submitted Friday on behalf of 300 national and state partners, that coverage for every American, while a critical ingredient to reform, by itself will not address the serious burden of chronic disease and obesity. Better care coordination, as well as incentives built into the delivery system to reward both patients and providers for prevention, early detection and dedicated disease management, is needed to effectively address the prevention and control of chronic conditions directly.

"Options for prevention and wellness are especially crucial in reform of entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which shoulder a disproportionate chronic disease and obesity burden compared to the rest of the system," said Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., PFCD Executive Director. "This paper offers several policy options, including community health teams, Right Choices grants, employer wellness credits and prevention and wellness grants, which will help improve the quality and coordination of care that patients receive in these 'safety net' programs."

In Medicare, patients with one or more chronic diseases account for 96 percent of spending -- approximately $724 billion in 2007. In Medicaid, they account for 83 percent of spending. Trends show that obesity and chronic diseases are the main drivers of rising costs in Medicare; for example, between 1987 and 2002, Medicare spending on obese beneficiaries alone nearly tripled -- rising from 9 percent to 25 percent of total spending. In addition, were obesity still at 1987 levels, Medicare spending would be $40 billion per year lower than it was in 2006.

The submitted comments focused on three core recommendations to strengthen the ideas brought forward in the Baucus/Grassley paper:

  • Reducing the toll of chronic diseases requires a focus on prevention across the continuum of health status and settings that influence health.
  • Financial decisions people face must be designed to lower barriers to patient compliance with recommended preventive care and prescribed care to prevent, detect, and manage chronic disease.
  • Improvements to the health system should work to reduce health disparities.

These suggestions are supported by more detailed recommendations of potential improvements.

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are responsible for seven out of 10 deaths and affect more than 130 million Americans. The annual economic impact on the U.S. of the seven most common chronic diseases is estimated to be $1.3 trillion, which could balloon to nearly $6 trillion by 2050.

About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease:

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is a national and state-based 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. For more information about the PFCD and its partner organizations, please visit:

SOURCE Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
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