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Nation's Economic Downturn Threatens Continuity of Care for Chronic Conditions

DMAA Members Report Some Payers Scaling Back Chronic Disease Initiatives

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- DMAA: The Care Continuum Alliance, responding to reports that many Americans are forgoing basic medical care in the economic downturn, today called for renewed vigilance in the fight against chronic disease and support for care management.

"While some forms of belt-tightening make sense in tough economic times --dining out less often or carpooling, for example -- we can't afford to extend cost-cutting to medical care, especially for people with chronic conditions," DMAA President and CEO Tracey Moorhead says. "As the cost and prevalence of chronic diseases threaten to overrun our health care system, now is the time to increase our commitment to the chronically ill and those at risk, not cut back."

Recent surveys and reports paint a troubling picture of the response by many Americans to the nation's economic woes:

-- Twenty-two percent of U.S. consumers have put off physician visits and

11 percent have delayed refilling prescriptions or taken smaller doses

than prescribed, a National Association of Insurance Commissioners

survey found.

-- In a CIGNA survey, 35 percent of respondents said they avoided regular

physician visits and 17 percent took medications less often or not at

all. Ten percent said they can't afford to eat properly or eat less

healthful foods.

-- The Rockefeller Foundation and Time magazine reported that 10 percent of

respondents did not take a child to the doctor due to economic


Further, DMAA member organizations report that, as the economy weakens, some payers -- including some state Medicaid programs -- are pulling back from plans to institute population-based programs for the chronically ill, such as wellness and disease management initiatives.

"Any time you interrupt continuity of care, particularly for chronic disease, you risk sliding backward in health status and creating higher costs when conditions worsen for lack of regular care," Moorhead says. "Retreating now from these important programs might generate savings in the short term. Ultimately, though, it will cost all Americans much more in health status and health care dollars."

Diabetes care offers one example of the wisdom of investing now in patient self-management programs, Moorhead says. "Studies consistently show better medication adherence, increased rates of A1C testing, more frequent retinal and foot exams, fewer hospitalizations and other improved health outcomes through these programs," she says. "They also show significant costs savings through reduced hospitalizations and emergency department visits -- in some cases, particularly for employers and states, double their investment or more."

About DMAA: The Care Continuum Alliance

DMAA: The Care Continuum Alliance represents more than 200 organizations and individuals and convenes all stakeholders along the care continuum toward population health improvement. Through advocacy, research and promotion of best practices, DMAA advances population-based strategies to improve care quality and outcomes and reduce preventable costs for individuals with and at risk of chronic conditions.

SOURCE DMAA: The Care Continuum Alliance
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