Thank you for considering adding your name to an open letter to the Presidential candidates urging them to address the growing burden of chronic disease in America as a pathway to building wealth in America. An opportunity to add your name to the letter is provided at the bottom of the page. The letter will be provided to all of the Presidential candidates and will appear in its entirety in newspaper advertisements including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The Washington Post. We do plan to include the information provided under “organization” in the signature form provided below.
Anywhere the letter appears, it will include the following disclaimer: This letter is signed by the individuals listed in his or her personal capacity. The opinions expressed are the signers' own and do not reflect the view of the organization(s) with which that individual is affiliated. Signing the letter does not express or imply support for the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease or its policies.
As people sign onto the letter, their names will be visible on this page which is updated regularly.
Deadline for adding your signature is: March 1, 2016.
Dear Presidential Candidates,
Chronic disease has a direct impact on the wealth of America: health is wealth, and chronic disease costs American society immensely. Our nation’s leaders have a viable, profound opportunity to build wealth by improving health.
Seven out of ten American deaths are due to chronic diseases such as COPD, heart disease and cancer. One in two Americans lives with at least one chronic conditioni. Nearly half of U.S. adults have diabetes or pre-diabetesii – more than double the number just thirty years ago.iii Rising rates of chronic disease do not only affect adults. In fact, fueled by the obesity epidemic, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes among American children age 19 and younger grew by 30 percent from 2001-2009.iv
Treating people with chronic conditions accounts for 86 percent of the nearly $3 trillion we spend on health care a year.v Alzheimer’s disease and dementia alone currently cost $200 billion per year – and this is expected to double by 2040.vi The implications for public spending are striking: within Medicare, people with multiple chronic conditions account for 93 percent of total spending.
Moreover, the direct health care costs associated with chronic disease are only a slice of the problem. Chronic illnesses, including behavioral health conditions, directly affect the U.S. economy through lost productivity, missed work days, disability, and premature death. Today, nearly one in two working age adults age 45 to 64 have more than one chronic condition.vii Cardiovascular disease alone was projected to cost America $216 billion in lost productivity in 2015; if current trends continue, this is projected to increase to $304 billion per year by 2030.viii
But perhaps the most important – and unmeasured – costs of chronic disease are the hardships caused by instances of avoidable disability and loss of life that disrupt families, burden caregivers, and exact a personal toll on those who lose loved ones. The value to American society of reducing the impact of chronic disease far exceeds the costs of health care and reduced productivity.
Determining the most effective strategy and allocation of resources to reduce the burden of chronic disease is a challenge, but the potential payoff is immense. Reducing mortality from heart disease or cancer by just one percent is worth as much as $628 billion dollars – over 3.5% of annual GDP.ix Our next President should seize the opportunity to reset the agenda and generate American wealth by promoting Americans’ health.