Dating back to the 2008 presidential campaigns, chronic disease has featured in health reform discussion—a big change from the last attempt at health care reform in ‘93-94.

But the proof of commitment to addressing our nation’s chronic disease crisis is in the policy, and not simply the rhetoric. In the last two weeks, there are two instances where language on prevention and wellness has been included in Congressional policy proposals—first, in a second bi-partisan Senate Finance paper from Sens. Baucus and Grassley, and then in the Patients’ Choice Act, the health care plan proposed by the Republican Policy Committee. 

Both papers argue that better preventing and managing disease is a way to lower long-term health care costs (see Almanac of Chronic Disease for supporting data), and the Republican white paper cited many of PFCD’s “Unhealthy Truths.” I was also pleased to see community health teams included in the Senate Finance paper as a way to improve quality and coordination.

As I mentioned in a PFCD briefing last Thursday, we need to make sure that options for prevention and wellness are especially included in reform of entitlement programs (Medicare, Medicaid) that shoulder a disproportionate chronic disease burden compared to the rest of the system. Patients with one or more chronic diseases account for 96 percent of every Medicare spending and 82 percent of Medicaid spending, compared to 75 percent of total health expenditures.