Group Calls On Candidates To Address Chronic Disease
A group of health care policy experts on Tuesday in Concord, N.H., announced the formation of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, a coalition that will encourage presidential candidates and their staffs to include plans to prevent, treat and manage chronic diseases in their health care proposals, the Boston Globe reports.
The coalition will include public health groups and other organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Service Employees International Union and YMCA, and former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona will serve as chair.
The coalition will not endorse a specific candidate.
According to the coalition, chronic diseases -- such as cancer, diabetes and obesity -- account for 75 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. and cause seven of every 10 deaths. Kenneth Thorpe, chair of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and founder of the coalition, said, "For too long, the national debate has been focused on access and who gets covered. But what we should be talking about is how we can drive costs down and provide better care."
Thorpe said that Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton
(D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) have announced health care proposals that would address chronic diseases adequately. However, he said, "Major health care reform is not going to happen by one health plan alone" and "is going to take a national strategy of a lot of people coming together to get it accomplished," adding, "Getting these groups together around a common strategy is what we are doing" (Pindell, Boston Globe, 9/26).
In addition to plans to address chronic diseases, the coalition will encourage candidates to include in their health care proposals plans to promote healthy lifestyles, improve the quality and availability of health care information technology, and reduce health care disparities (CQ HealthBeat, 9/26).
Obama on Tuesday during a campaign event at the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center in Portland, Maine, discussed health care and a number of other issues, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports.
At the event, Obama discussed the need for health care reform and said, as president, he would establish a system to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents (Canfield, AP/Long Island Newsday, 9/25).
Clinton "appears to have learned little since the public rejected her last attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system in 1994," Michael Cannon and Michael Tanner, policy directors at the Cato Institute, write in a Wichita Eagle opinion piece.
According to the authors, a mandate that all U.S. residents obtain health insurance, the "centerpiece" of the Clinton health care proposal, would result in the "government ... designing your health coverage, with the help of legions of special interests with more political influence than you have," and would require a "huge new government bureaucracy to track and monitor compliance." In addition, the authors write, the "pay or play" mandate for employers included in the proposal "would simply increase the cost of hiring workers, meaning less entrepreneurship and fewer hires."
The proposal also would mandate that health insurers cannot deny coverage to applicants because of pre-existing medical conditions, a requirement that "sounds compassionate until you realize that it would dramatically increase premiums for younger workers, who generally earn less, in order to reduce premiums for older workers, who earn more," according to the authors. The proposal also would extend Medicare coverage to the "near elderly," a move that is "about as wise as adding a few more passengers to the Titanic," the authors write.
They conclude, "Clinton boasts that she bears the scars of her first effort to reform health care. If she is successful this time, the scars will be ours" (Cannon/Tanner, Wichita Eagle, 9/26).