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Trust for America's Health Applauds Daschle's Commitment to Prevention

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trust for America's Health (TFAH) welcomed the testimony of U.S. Secretary-Designate of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Daschle before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions today and supports his goal to prioritize prevention in the new Administration. Daschle testified that the health care system must shift from emphasizing a sick care system to a health care system, helping to prevent disease instead of treating people only after they have become sick. Daschle noted that "our health care system is not oriented toward prevention, and therefore, fails to incentivize the screenings and lifestyle changes that can do so much to improve health. Any health care reform plan must make sure every American has preventative care that prevents disease and disability.... In addition to being sound medicine, [prevention] is sound fiscal policy."

"Daschle hit the nail on the head that prevention should be America's first line of defense against disease, instead of an afterthought," said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, Executive Director of TFAH. "Helping Americans become healthier is one of the most overlooked ways to drive down health care costs and ensure our workforce is competitive in the global economy. Now more than ever, we need prevention to be the cornerstone of health care reform, especially in this time of economic crisis. We look forward to working with the Obama Administration to ensure this vision for a healthier America becomes a reality."

Daschle stressed the importance of community-based disease prevention, and cited TFAH's recent Prevention for a Healthier America study, which found that for every $1 spent on proven community-based disease prevention programs, the country could net a return of $5.60 in health care costs -- a savings of more than $16 billion annually within five years. These findings are based on an economic model developed by researchers at the Urban Institute and a review of evidence-based studies conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine. They found that many effective prevention programs cost less than $10 per person per year, and that these programs have delivered results in lowering rates of diseases that are related to physical activity, nutrition, and smoking. The evidence shows that implementing these programs in communities reduces rates of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent within two years; reduces heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke by 5 percent within five years; and reduces some forms of cancer, arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 2.5 percent within 10 to 20 years.

The report focused on disease prevention programs that do not require medical care and target communities or at-risk segments of communities. Examples of these programs include providing increased access to affordable nutritious foods, increasing sidewalks and parks in communities, and raising tobacco tax rates. Currently, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, one in five Americans do not engage in any physical activity, and one in five adult Americans smoke.

TFAH's Prevention for a Healthier America: Investments in Disease Prevention Yield Significant Savings, Stronger Communities report can be found in full at TFAH's website

Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.

SOURCE Trust for America's Health
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