Emory University public health policy researcher Kenneth E. Thorpe, PhD, today helped launch the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) in collaboration with former U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona and other leaders gathered in Washington, D.C.
The coalition, a team of leading health care, business and labor community experts and organizations, is committed to positioning chronic disease care as a key health care issue in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
Dr. Thorpe chairs the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. Dr. Thorpe, along with other policy experts, including former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Mark McClellan, MD, announced the broad-based effort that aims to change the way our nation approaches chronic disease at a panel discussion. Representatives from more than 50 organizations attended the event, which was held at the National Capital YMCA.
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. - causing more than 1.7 million Americans deaths 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 U.S.
"Any serious proposal to reform our health care system must address preventable chronic disease," says Dr. 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 No. 1 health care priority for policymakers and presidential candidates."
During the event, Drs. Thorpe and McClellan delivered a keynote presentation, "An 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. 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
*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 U.S. and more than 75 percent of health care costs
Dr. Thorpe is formerly Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Clinton. He has testified before several committees in the U.S. House and Senate on issues of health care financing, insurance and health care reform and is a frequent commentator for print and broadcast media.
To learn more about the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), visit www.fightchronicdisease.org.
For more information about Dr. Thorpe, visit http://whsc.emory.edu/npc_emory.cfm.