July 30, 2009
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid:
As members of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), we thank you for your leadership in Congress and support of President Obama in making health care reform a priority in 2009.
While health care reform is a complex issue with many different viewpoints, all agree that making quality health care coverage affordable on a sustainable basis is key to making quality health care accessible to all.
We believe that sustainable affordability will not be possible unless we take immediate and bold action to fight chronic disease. Despite all the resources currently being spent on health care in the U.S., millions suffer from preventable, common, and costly chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Their rapid growth causes individual health care costs to soar, undercuts U.S. competitiveness, and threatens Medicare and Medicaid viability.
Spending on patients with one or more chronic diseases now represents more than 75 percent of total spending on health care in the U.S., and even more in Medicare and Medicaid. Until we address the true causes of this crisis, we will never be able to slow spending or make health care more affordable. Nor we will have a workforce – or an economy – that can perform to its fullest potential.
The PFCD, a national and state-based coalition of hundreds of patient, provider, community, business, and labor groups, advocates for comprehensive health reform that controls health care spending through measures that simultaneously reduce costs and improve health outcomes. We believe the following policy proposals would do just that and deserve greater attention when drafting health reform legislation.
· Include care coordination models in Medicare, such as community health teams. Because of a lack of care coordination and poor payment mechanisms, Medicare is plagued with high rates of preventable chronic diseases and their complications -- resulting in avoidable hospital admissions and readmissions and other care.
· Tie Medicare payments to the quality of care received, not the quantity of care. Studies have shown that more care does not equal better care, and that a strong focus on prevention and effective management of chronic disease has eliminated a great deal of wasteful and expensive spending.
· Support primary prevention of chronic disease by stimulating growth and participation in workplace, community and school wellness programs. Evidence-based primary prevention programs that promote healthy behaviors, educate individuals about their health, and empower them to reduce their risk-factors have succeeded in reducing individual health risks and lowering rates of chronic disease.
· Remove barriers patients face to effective treatment and management of chronic illness. High out-of-pocket costs for prescribed treatments can make it more difficult for patients to follow their health providers’ instructions, particularly for low-income patients. The cost of poor patient adherence to therapy represents a huge missed opportunity; for instance, poor adherence to medication therapy alone has been estimated to cost the U.S. as much as $300 billion annually.
· Streamline administrative health care costs to reduce unnecessary spending. Simplifying and standardizing paperwork, and moving to an electronic-based system where information is available in real time would facilitate chronic care management and care coordination, leading to reductions in costs.
We encourage Congress to support and adequately fund these value-driven, cost-savings measures to ensure the passage of meaningful health reform in 2009.
Thank you, in advance, for your support.
Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease