Presidential Candidates Urged To Develop Strategies To Combat Chronic Diseases

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Chronic Diseases

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 theirstaffs to include plans to prevent, treat and manage chronic diseasesin 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 thecoalition, 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 Healthat 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 andprovide 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 chronicdiseases adequately. However, he said, "Major health care reform is notgoing to happen by one health plan alone" and "is going to take anational strategy of a lot of people coming together to get itaccomplished," adding, "Getting these groups together around a commonstrategy is what we are doing" (Pindell, Boston Globe, 9/26).

Inaddition to plans to address chronic diseases, the coalition willencourage candidates to include in their health care proposals plans topromote healthy lifestyles, improve the quality and availability ofhealth care information technology, and reduce health care disparities (CQ HealthBeat, 9/26).

Obama in Maine


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.

Atthe event, Obama discussed the need for health care reform and said, aspresident, he would establish a system to expand health insurance toall U.S. residents (Canfield, AP/Long Island Newsday, 9/25).

Opinion Piece

Clinton "appears to have learned little since the public rejected herlast attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system in 1994," MichaelCannon and Michael Tanner, policy directors at the Cato Institute, write in a Wichita Eagle opinion piece.

Accordingto the authors, a mandate that all U.S. residents obtain healthinsurance, 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 politicalinfluence than you have," and would require a "huge new governmentbureaucracy to track and monitor compliance." In addition, the authorswrite, the "pay or play" mandate for employers included in the proposal"would simply increase the cost of hiring workers, meaning lessentrepreneurship and fewer hires."

The proposal also wouldmandate that health insurers cannot deny coverage to applicants becauseof pre-existing medical conditions, a requirement that "soundscompassionate until you realize that it would dramatically increasepremiums for younger workers, who generally earn less, in order toreduce premiums for older workers, who earn more," according to theauthors. The proposal also would extend Medicare coverage to the "nearelderly," a move that is "about as wise as adding a few more passengersto the Titanic," the authors write.

They conclude, "Clintonboasts that she bears the scars of her first effort to reform healthcare. If she is successful this time, the scars will be ours"(Cannon/Tanner, Wichita Eagle, 9/26).

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