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Disability may be on the rise again after 20-year decline
Date:12/22/2009

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"About two-thirds of Medicaid spending and over a third of Medicare spending are associated with disability, so any increase in costs due to increased disability is a federal liability," added Nuru-Jeter. "If we do nothing, those costs will grow as more middle-aged adults develop diseases that lead to disability because they lack preventive services or are uninsured. If we cover all children and adults, we are likely to slow or even reverse this trend."

Most of the people in this study were 65 and over and hence already covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

"The prevention of disability could get a big boost if health care reform passes and retains its strong emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention," said Meredith Minkler, professor of health and social behavior at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and another co-author of the study.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on health care legislation this week. If it passes, it will need to be reconciled with the health reform bill passed last month by the U.S. House of Representatives before being sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

"The Senate health care reform bill, as it now stands, provides coverage for a range of evidence-based prevention services, with no cost sharing by individuals," said Minkler. "Since disability rates are highest in the poor, providing prevention and screening services without copayments and deductibles could encourage more of those most vulnerable to disability-related problems to seek the help they need, reducing costs down the line."

The study was based upon 2000-2005 data from the American Community Survey, which was conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of households responding to the annual survey ranged from half a million to nearly two million.

The researchers said the rise in disability among those living in the community could be partially attributed to the decrease in eld
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Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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