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Group Urges Presidential Candidates to Highlight Chronic Disease

By CQ Staff

September 25, 2007 – With health care the top domestic issue among voters as the nation heads into the 2008 elections, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease asked presidential candidates Tuesday to focus on ways to prevent, treat, and manage chronic diseases that account for more than 75 cents of every dollar spent on health care.

"We want all presidential candidates to consider our ideas for change as they solidify and provide greater details of their health care proposals," said the group's executive director, Ken Thorpe, in a statement. "While we are encouraged that most candidates who have released health care reform plans included ideas for fighting chronic disease, more needs to be done."

The group will not endorse a party or a candidate but instead will encourage all candidates to address issues related to chronic disease.

According to the group, a coalition that includes organizations representing patients, health care providers, business, and labor unions, chronic disease is responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths in the United States. About two-thirds of the rise in health care spending over the past two decades is due to the rise in the prevalence of treated chronic disease, and only 56 percent of those with chronic disease receive clinically appropriate care.

Among its recommendations, the coalition is encouraging candidates to advance sustainable chronic disease prevention, early intervention, and management models throughout the health care system. Candidates' health care proposals should also promote healthy lifestyles, it said. Policies to improve the quality and availability of health information technology and reduce health disparities should also be top priorities for candidates, the group stated.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y, who released her health care overhaul proposal earlier this month, said the group's policy "largely mirrors the approach that I have outlined and heartily endorse."

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