New Jersey Launches New Effort to Fight Chronic Disease

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 General News
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EAST BRUNSWICK and CAMDEN, N.J., Sept. 9 Leading expertsand organizations in the health care, business, faith and labor communitiescame together today to launch the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD),a coalition committed to making the issue of chronic disease one of the keyhealth care issues in the nation. The PFCD is led nationally by Richard H.Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States(2002-2006) and Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., Chair, Rollins School of Public Health atEmory University and a former White House health policy advisor. Dr. Carmonatraveled to East Brunswick and Camden, New Jersey today to kick off the localeffort.

"We have a 'sick care' system, not a health care system in our nation.That's why this diverse coalition is sounding the alarm and calling foraction," said Dr. Carmona. "Despite any differences we may have on otherissues, we all agree on a single, undeniable fact: 130 million people sufferfrom chronic diseases in our nation, and costs are skyrocketing because ofpreventable and poorly managed chronic diseases. We can -- and we must -- dosomething to stop it."

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is being led in New Jersey by twochairs: Former New Jersey Governor Jim Florio and David L. Knowlton, Presidentand CEO of the NJ Health Care Quality Institute. Also joining the effort asco-chairs, are Rev. Reginald Jackson, Executive Director, Black Ministers'Council of NJ, Phil Kirschner, President, NJ Business and IndustryAssociation, Tom Manning, President, New Jersey State Association of PipeTrades, Martin Perez, Esq., President, Latino Leadership Alliance of NewJersey, and Joan Verplanck, President, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, allleaders in the strong bipartisan partnership.

"Americans suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, andheart disease can and do have devastating effects in terms of lives lost,quality of life lost, and tremendous financial burden. The good news is thatwe can all take action to improve the health and wellness of our nationthrough better prevention and management of chronic diseases," added Carmona.

"I am proud to lead this new effort in our state," said former GovernorFlorio. "It simply makes sound public policy sense to invest in earlyprevention and treatment efforts that will save both public and privateentities millions in health care costs while improving the quality of life forthousands of citizens."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronicdiseases 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 alsothe primary driver of health care costs, accounting for more than 75% 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 addresspreventable chronic disease," said Knowlton. "Our state's premier business,labor, health care, faith, and community organizations are dedicated to makingchronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer the numberone health care priority for policymakers and presidential candidates."

Dr. Carmona, Gov. Florio and Knowlton, along with other high-profile NewJerseyans announced the broad-based effort that aims to change the way NewJersey approaches chronic disease.

Dr. Carmona highlighted the impact of chronic disease:

-- 30% of the increase in health spending since 1987 is due to doubling ofthe rate of obesity during that time;

-- Two-thirds of spending over the past 25 years is attributable to therise in rates of treated chronic disease;

-- In New Jersey, roughly $7.5 billion is spent every year on the sevenmost common chronic diseases alone; and

-- Only a small fraction of Americans, fewer than one in six, comprehendthe m

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