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New Jersey Leaders Join Forces to Battle Chronic Disease

National Coalition to Tackle Number One Cause of Death and Disability

TRENTON, N.J., April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Stressing the major toll that chronic diseases take on the state's health care system, a broad, bipartisan coalition of influential New Jersey residents in the health care, business, labor and faith communities yesterday launched New Jersey Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), a coalition committed to making chronic disease the key health care issue for current legislators, policy makers and candidates in the upcoming elections.

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), Chairperson of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and President of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute; and Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., Chair, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and a former White House health policy advisor.

During two news conferences yesterday in Voorhees and Trenton, the New Jersey PFCD announced the launch of coalition that includes representatives from the healthcare, business, labor, education, faith, and community-based organizations. While many of the groups would not ordinarily be on the same side of an issue, they have now come together to support this critical public awareness and call to action campaign.

Dr. Thorpe, one of the nation's leaders in the fight against chronic disease, said it is imperative that policy makers place this issue at the top of their agenda -- and that citizens strongly encourage them to do so.

"Preventable and poorly managed chronic diseases damage America's quality of life and cause health care costs to skyrocket," he said. "Leaders from both sides of the aisle must address this issue now and create a health care system, rather than a sick care system. By uniting in our commitment to shine a spotlight on this crisis that impacts every New Jersey resident -- and every American -- we can save precious lives and needlessly spent dollars."

Judy Doyle, Executive Director of the Mayor's Wellness Campaign, applauded the Partnership for shining a spotlight on the need for widespread chronic disease awareness and prevention.

"Any serious proposal to reform our health care system must address preventable chronic disease," she explained. "It's critical to our quality of life and our ability to compete economically as a state and a nation. That's why so many of our state's leaders are dedicated to making chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer a central priority for policymakers."

Former Congressman Bob Franks said the collective voices of such a diverse coalition will have a powerful impact on encouraging candidates in both parties to make chronic disease prevention a central plank in their healthcare platforms.

Sarah Yourman, an 18-year-old who suffers from cystic fibrosis, diabetes and Crohn's disease closed the program at both new conferences. Yourman, a compelling speaker and advocate, described her daily life, which involves lengthy lung treatments and multiple medications but also includes school, sports and other typical teenage activities. She credits quality healthcare, disease management and treatment innovations with what she still believes is a "relatively normal teenage life." "I want everyone to live the life I live and have the same opportunity to be a happy, healthy patient living with these diseases," she concluded.

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 2 trillion dollars spent each year on health care in the United States.

During his remarks, Dr. Thorpe provided an overview of the crisis of chronic disease and the lack of awareness among the majority of Americans about the problem and potential solutions. Key facts in the presentation included:

-- 30 percent of the increase in health spending since 1987 is due to

doubling of the rate of obesity during that time;

-- Two-thirds of spending over the past 25 years is attributable to the

rise in rates of treated chronic disease;

-- Over 4.6 million cases of seven common chronic diseases -- cancer,

diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders and

pulmonary conditions were reported in New Jersey in 2003.

-- Nationwide, 75 cents of every healthcare dollar goes to treatment of

chronic diseases.

In order to bring the issue of chronic disease to the forefront of the national dialogue on health care, the PFCD is modeling its outreach strategy and tactics after a modern-day political campaign. The co-chairs and partner organizations will launch an aggressive grassroots effort which includes voter and candidate education and media outreach.

The New Jersey Partnership has more than 25 partner organizations including health care associations and institutions, labor unions, local and regional business groups and community leaders. Additional organizations are joining the effort everyday. For more information about how you can be a part of this initiative, please call 215.766.7951 or send an email to PFCD --

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is a national bipartisan 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 United States: chronic disease.
The PFCD's mission is to:

-- Challenge policymakers to make the issue of chronic disease a top

priority and articulate how they will address the issue through 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


Contact: Lucy Montgomery

215.766.7951 (office)

215.262.8624 (mobile)

SOURCE Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
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