NH Coalition Forms to Make Chronic Disease the Key Health Care Issue in 2008

Chronic Disease Accounts for 7 in 10 Deaths in the U.S. and 75 Cents of Every Dollar Spent on Health Care

Largest Bipartisan Partnership to Tackle New Hampshire’s Number One Cause of Death and Disability

Concord, NH (May 18, 2007)— Leaders and organizations in the health care, business, and labor communities came together yesterday in Concord to launch the New Hampshire Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), a coalition committed to making the issue of chronic disease the key health care issue in the 2008 presidential election. National PFCD Co-Chair Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., a former White House health policy advisor, joined the NH PFCD coalition members at the event.

"As former Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated earlier this week, we have a 'sick care' system, not a health care system," said Denise A. Brewitt, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions, who introduced the coalition and Chairman Thorpe. "Preventable chronic diseases cost Americans billions of dollars and result in unnecessary deaths. This diverse group of interests is banding together to raise awareness of the importance of reducing chronic disease in New Hampshire, and throughout the United States"

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 75% of the $2 trillion dollars spent each year on health care in the U.S.

“Any serious proposal to reform our health care system must address preventable chronic disease,” said Thorpe. “ Our nation’s premier business, labor, health care, and community organizations are dedicated to making chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer the number one health care priority for policymakers and presidential candidates.”

Thorpe, along with other high-profile NH health policy experts including representatives from the NH Pharmacists Association, the City of Manchester Health Department, American Lung Association NH, the National Alliance on Mental Illness NH , AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region, the NH Kidney Foundation , and New Hampshire for Healthcare, came together at the Legislative Office Building yesterday and announced the broad-based effort that aims to change the way our nation approaches chronic disease at a panel discussion.

During the event, Thorpe delivered a keynote presentation titled “The Unhealthy Truth” – an overview of the crisis of chronic disease and the lack of awareness among the majority of Americans about the problem and potential solutions. According to recent surveys:

§ 30% of the increases in health spending since 1987 is due to the doubling of the rate of obesity during that time;

§ Two-thirds of spending over the past 25 years is attributable to the rise of rates of treated chronic disease; and

§ Only a small fraction of Americans, less than one in six, comprehend the magnitude of the problem: that chronic disease represent more than 70% of the deaths in the U.S. and more than 70% of health care costs.

“You can debate how to pay for health care, and members of this group might disagree on the best approach, but you can’t debate the need for better clinical management and prevention of chronic disease,” said Thorpe . “It is our mission to educate voters and candidates on the critical need to stop chronic disease from plaguing our nation.”

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 presidential campaign. Thorpe will participate in the launches of state chapters over the next few days and weeks in high-profile presidential primary states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The launches of state-based PFCD campaigns will jump-start the PFCD’s grassroots campaign, which includes voter and candidate education and media outreach. While the initial phase of the campaign targets early presidential primary states, the PFCD will continue pushing its message through the 2008 presidential election and beyond.

Paid media is a critical part of the PFCD’s awareness-building efforts. Print, radio, billboard, and other highly visible outdoor advertisements aim to educate consumers and policymakers on the issue of chronic disease. The ads will explicitly ask voters to hold presidential candidates responsible for addressing the issue.

Starting today, the PFCD will also run an extensive online advertising campaign to drive consumers and policymakers to the coalition’s innovative Web site (www.fightchronicdisease.org) where they can:

§ Sign a petition to voice support for the fight against chronic disease;

§ Learn the appropriate ways to contact policymakers and media outlets;

§ Explore model programs that are successful in fighting chronic disease and improving health in communities across the nation;

§ Access recent research conducted by the PFCD and other organizations, as well as fact sheets and toolkits that offer helpful tips on healthy living at home and in the workplace;

§ Stay informed with the latest news on chronic disease, health and wellness, and health care policies; and

§ Keep tabs on current legislation that may affect the prevention and treatment of chronic disease in the United States.

“We want to permanently reverse the dynamics of our health care system away from treating sickness to preventing it in the first place,” said Thorpe. “While our current inaction is devastating in terms of lives lost and financial costs, the benefits of action could be the opposite. The value of saving lives is self evident. The costs savings free up new funds that can be better used to expand health care services for those currently without them.”

About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease

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 #1 cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease .

The (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 #1 cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease .

The PFCD’s 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

More than 40 advisory board members and partner organizations from across the nation have joined the PFCD, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, SEIU, the NAACP, Easter Seals, the National Medical Association, Kerr Drug, the American College of Nurse Practitioners, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, American College of Preventive Medicine, Sheet Metal Workers International Association, YMCA of the USA, the Alliance for Aging Research, International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), American Pharmacists Association Foundation, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Disease Management Association of America, Integrated Benefits Institute, and the Milken Institute, among others. The PFCD advisory board members and partners reach approximately 330 million Americans through their work.New Hampshire PFCD Partners include: AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region, American Lung Association of New Hampshire, Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire, City of Manchester Health Department, Council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions, Greater Manchester YMCA, Greater Nashua YMCA, Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire, New England Clinicians Forum, New Hampshire Catholic Charities, New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities, New Hampshire for Health Care, New Hampshire Independent Pharmacists Association, New Hampshire Kidney Foundation, New Hampshire Pharmacists Association, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, NH Retired Educators Association, Retired Chapter of the State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1984

For more information, please visit www.fightchronicdisease.org.