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Partnership Applauds President for Shining Light on True Cost Driver in Health Care - Calls on CBO to Join the Effort

Chronic Disease Accounts for 75 Percent of Health Care Costs in the U.S.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In his address to the nation President Obama was clear in his vision, forceful in his intent, but realistic about the challenges the country faces when it comes to health care reform. In making his case to the American public he clearly identified the true driver of health care costs, which is critical to solving the problem -- and that driver is chronic and preventable disease, said Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.

"Knowing what the problem is that needs to be fixed is critical to any reform plan, and President Obama clearly identified what that problem is - high and rising cost of chronic diseases likes diabetes and heart disease. These illnesses fuel demand for health care services and treatments in this country, which in turn cause costs to rise. We can reduce demand by preventing and better managing disease, which would reduce the catastrophic illnesses that unmanaged disease can cause. We can eliminate costs, not just postpone them or push them off," Thorpe said.

"We need systemic reform in how we deliver care, not mere tactical changes such as reductions in reimbursement rates, which only postpone or shift costs. In this challenge we call on the influential CBO to recognize the evidence that reducing the incidence of disease, especially chronic disease, can improve health outcomes and eliminate costs," Thorpe concluded.

Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, are extraordinarily costly in terms of the impact on Americans' health, their wallets and the U.S. economy, according to the PFCD.

  • They are responsible for seven out of 10 deaths and affect more than 130 million Americans.
  • They represent 75 percent of the $2.2 trillion spent on health care in the U.S. in 2007 - and are the primary driver of rising costs. In taxpayer-funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, the proportions are even higher: 96% and 83%, respectively.
  • 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.

The PFCD has developed a set of CBO Guiding Concepts which are intended to generate discussion about new approaches to scoring legislation in these areas. These Guiding Concepts are available on the PFCD Web site at

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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