Illinois Health, Business, Faith And Labor Leaders Join Forces On Health Reform Agenda

National Coalition to Tackle Number-One Cause of Death and Disability.

Stressing the major toll that chronic diseases take on the state?s health care system, a broad, bipartisan coalition of influential health care, business, faith and labor leaders today launched the Illinois Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), a coalition committed to making chronic disease the key issue in the health care reform debate. The PFCD is led nationally by Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States (2002-2006), Chairperson of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and President of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute.

Dr. Carmona, one of the nation?s leaders in the fight against chronic disease, said it is imperative that policymakers place this issue at the top of their agenda ? and that all Americans strongly encourage them to do so.

?Preventable and poorly managed chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease, mental disorders and diabetes place an unsustainable health burden on people and families and cause health care costs to skyrocket in Illinois and nationwide,? said Dr. Carmona. ?With 75 cents of every health care dollar spent to treat and manage chronic diseases each year, leaders from both sides of the aisle must address this issue as a part of meaningful health reform. PFCD?s broad coalition of national and state partners is transforming our current ?sick-care? system into a true health care system. By addressing chronic diseases that impact every person in Illinois and every American, we will improve the health, safety and security of our great nation.?

Larry Boress, President and Chief Executive Officer, Midwest Business Group on Health applauded the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease for shining a spotlight on the need for widespread chronic disease awareness and prevention.

?Chronic disease has a huge impact not just on an employer?s medical costs, but also on the productivity of the workforce,? said Mr. Boress. ?Unless we can help people manage their own conditions and prevent others from getting worse, we won?t be competitive in the global marketplace or stop the increasing number of workers facing lifelong illnesses.?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths in the United States ? taking the lives of more than 1.7 million Americans every year. Chronic diseases are also the primary driver of health care costs, accounting for more than 75 percent of the $2 trillion dollars spent each year on health care in the United States.

?Any serious proposal to reform our health care system must address preventable chronic disease,? said David Tucker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Health Charities of Illinois, and a member of PFCD Illinois. ?It?s critical to our quality of life and our ability to compete economically as a state and a nation. That?s why so many of Illinois? leaders are dedicated to making chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer a central priority for policymakers and elected officials.?

Joel Africk, President and Chief Executive Officer, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago said, ?The Respiratory Health Association is proud to join in this important initiative. We talk with people daily who struggle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, and we know that proper management of these conditions can avoid premature deaths and also can also reduce our national health care costs.?

The Illinois Partnership has more than 35 partner organizations including health care associations and institutions, labor unions, local and regional business groups and community leaders.

Dr. Carmona provided an overview of the unsustainable burden that chronic diseases place on society and the lack of awareness among the majority of Americans about the problem and potential solutions. Key facts in the presentation included:

 30 percent of the increase in health spending since 1987 is due to doubling of the rate of obesity during that time;
 Two-thirds of spending over the past 25 years is attributable to the rise in rates of treated chronic disease;
 In Illinois, roughly $12.5 billion is spent every year on the treatment of the seven most common chronic diseases alone; and
 Only a small fraction of Americans, fewer than one in six, comprehend the magnitude of the problem: that chronic diseases represent more than 70 percent of the deaths in the United States and more than 75 percent of health care costs.

In order to bring the issue of chronic disease to the forefront of the national dialogue on health care, PFCD Illinois co-chairs and partner organizations have launched an aggressive grassroots effort in the state which includes citizen education and media outreach.

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 number-one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease.

The PFCD?s mission is to:
 Challenge policymakers 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.

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