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National Chronic Disease Coalition launches Michigan chapter organization to encourage efforts to prevent, better manage costly chronic disease

May 18, 2012

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), a national coalition of leading experts and organizations in health care, business, labor and the faith community, launched a Michigan chapter to promote strategies to combat the No. 1 cause of death, disability and rising health care costs in the nation: chronic disease.

SBAM and more than 34 other Michigan-based organizations from the health care, business, labor and faith communities have signed on as PFCD chapter members.

“Chronic illness is the number one cause of most health care issues, but it is also one of the most preventable,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, who highlighted the problem in his September 2011 Special Message to the Legislature on Health and Wellness. “Choosing a healthy diet, exercising and getting regular checkups can improve our health and prevent further illness. Committing ourselves to better lifestyle choices benefits the individual, but also Michigan as a whole. I appreciate the dedication of these organizations to ensuring a healthier, more vibrant state.”

Former Congressman Joe Schwarz, a Battle Creek physician will serve as chair of the Michigan PFCD leadership team. He is joined by these co-chairs: Jeff Breslin, president of the Michigan Nurses Association; Linda Burghardt, executive director of NAMI-Michigan; Nancy McKeague, senior vice president of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and 2012 chair of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce; Paul Long, president and CEO of the Michigan Catholic Conference; and Othelia Pryor, executive director of the Michigan Minority Health Coalition.

“Michigan’s economic health is directly tied to the health of our state’s residents,” said Schwarz, who also served in the Michigan Senate from 1987 to 2002. “Each year, millions of Michiganders struggle with chronic diseases that shorten lives, reduce quality of life and create a significant burden for the state economy. As a physician, I know that increased awareness can be a big factor in preventing and managing chronic health problems in patients.”

According to the Milken Institute State Chronic Disease Index completed in 2007, there were nearly 6.2 million cases of seven common chronic diseases (cancers, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, mental disorders, and pulmonary conditions) reported in Michigan. The initial costs of treating these conditions totaled around $10.6 billion. The economic impact in terms of lost productivity is around $37.9 billion. The total treatment and economic impact in Michigan in 2003 is $48.4 billion.

Chronic diseases are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths in the nation — killing more than 1.7 million Americans every year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, chronic disease costs consume 75 cents of every health care dollar spent in the United States, and that increases to 90 cents in the Medicare and Medicaid population. More than $2.5 trillion is spent annually on health care in the United States.

 “Reducing the burden of chronic disease is a key strategy for bringing U.S. health care costs under control,” said Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., executive director of the national Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Emory University. “We’re committed to work together with federal state and community leaders to develop and support evidence-based programs and policies that can prevent or more effectively manage chronic disease.”

The PFCD was launched in May 2007 encourage national and state-based discussions on strategies that reduce the impact of 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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