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Chronic Conditions in America: Price and Prevalence

By Doug Irving


One issue—one health care issue, no less—has brought together a small alliance of congressional Democrats and Republicans in recent years: the need to better help people with chronic health conditions.

A new RAND study shows why, and adds a note of urgency to the effort. It found that 60 percent of American adults now live with at least one chronic condition; 42 percent have more than one. They account for hundreds of billions of dollars in health care spending every year.

The problem is only going to get more urgent. As the RAND study showed, chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure increase with age—as an entire generation of baby boomers is about to find out.

The RAND report comes just as several years of Senate hearings on the state of chronic care in America have led to a bipartisan bill that promises reform. As Sen. Ron Wyden, then-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, put it during a 2014 hearing: “The strongest, richest country on earth can do better by those who have these kinds of chronic conditions.”

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