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Partnership Calls on President to Attack Budget-Busting Crisis of Chronic Disease
Date:2/25/2009

Comprehensive Reform Needed to Address Rising Health Costs and Lost Economic Opportunity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In advance of the President's address to the nation last night, Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease called on the Obama Administration to address the tremendous cost of chronic illness as they determine the programmatic and spending priorities of the nation in the year ahead.

"High rates of chronic disease cause individual health costs to soar, undercut U.S. competitiveness and burden taxpayers," said Thorpe, in a letter to the President that he sent with the support of the PFCD's more than 120 national partners.

"As our country faces the worst economic downturn in a generation, effectively preventing and managing chronic disease is no longer simply an ideal - it is a national imperative."

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.

This crisis is especially concerning in light of the recently released government data which shows that health spending will consume $2.5 trillion or 17.6 percent of GDP in 2009, making it critical to immediately address this key cost driver in the health care system.

"With investments in prevention and disease management, we can improve not only our nation's health but our safety, quality of life, and economic security today and for future generations," said Thorpe.

"That's why we need the President's leadership on this issue, and ask that he work with our organization and other like-minded groups to advance comprehensive health reform to address this crisis."

Thorpe noted that the funding for wellness and prevention programs in the stimulus package recently passed by Congress is a step in the right direction.

"These improvements are a significant down payment in the way we approach improving health and health care in America," writes Thorpe in his letter to the President. "But more can and should be done. To address the epidemic of chronic illness, we will need comprehensive health reform that will help to realign incentives in health care to encourage and promote improvements in health and wellness."

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: www.fightchronicdisease.org.


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SOURCE Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
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