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On Weekend Before the Election, New Jersey's First Ladies Speak Out for Healthcare

Former First Ladies Join New Jersey State Nurses Association to Ask Voters

and Policy Makers to Think of Health Care

TRENTON, N.J., Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Calling themselves "The Healthcare First Ladies," some of New Jersey's former First Ladies have joined forces to ask the state's public policy makers to put health care at the top of the agenda at the state and federal level. The First Ladies joined the newest members of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, the New Jersey State Nurses Association, in making the pitch to elected officials.

The former New Jersey First Ladies who agreed to participate in this new Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease effort are:

-- Lucinda Florio, wife of former New Jersey Governor James Florio

-- Margaret Bennett, wife of former New Jersey Governor John Bennett

-- Dina Matos McGreevey, wife of former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey

-- Mary Jo Codey, wife of former New Jersey Governor Richard Codey

"The meltdown on Wall Street has understandably overshadowed health care as the top public policy, but we want to remind our policy makers that health care is inextricably linked to the economy and it is important that it remain a prime focus," said Dr. Barbara Chamberlain, RN, President of the New Jersey State Nurses Association.

"The science is irrefutable," said Mrs. Bennett, a Nurse Practitioner. "The stress that comes with hard economic times has a very real impact on the health of our citizens. We will see increases in a whole host of chronic diseases in the months and years ahead as a result of the financial crisis. Our leaders need to begin thinking now about how they will handle these illnesses."

"This is not a partisan political plea," said Mrs. Florio. "Both political parties have recognized that investments in chronic disease prevention can pay real dividends in terms of cost savings to employers and public entities as well as healthier citizens." Mrs. Florio serves as a spokesperson for the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute's Mayors Wellness Campaign.

"I saw first hand the impact of chronic disease neglect," said Dina Matos, who worked at both St. James and Columbus Hospitals in Newark. "If we do not take action to provide affordable and accessible health care to all of our citizens, a new crisis may very well be occupying the front pages of our newspapers on a daily basis in the months ahead."

Mrs. Codey, who has championed mental health issues nationwide, said, "There is no question that the mental health of Americans will suffer as a result of the financial anguish and strain they are realizing. Our elected officials need to come forward and tell us their plans for dealing with this new health care burden."

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

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 U.S.: chronic disease whose mission is to:

-- Challenge policymakers - in particular, the 2008 presidential candidates - 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 disease

Press Contact: Don Sico 609-351-3591

SOURCE Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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