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Forum at OHSU Addresses Chronic Disease Impact and the Value of Prevention

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and local experts to discuss strategies to better manage costly chronic diseasesPortland, OR (October 21, 2014) – Chronic, non-communicable diseases now account for more than 83 percent of the $3.8 trillion the U.S. spends on health care. In Medicare, 98 percent of program spending – about $487 billion – goes toward serving patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. In Oregon, nearly 60 percent of those 65 and older suffer from two or more chronic conditions.Oregon Health & Science University will host U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and local healthcare leaders who will participate in an interactive forum entitled, “Chronic Disease – Solving this Public Health Epidemic.” Presented by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), the forum will examine the social, medical and economic impact of chronic disease and explore ideas for solving this growing problem.During his opening remarks, Senator Wyden will highlight his ongoing work in the Senate to improve care for the chronically ill in Oregon and nationwide.“Managing chronic illness is the biggest challenge facing Medicare and the future of America’s health care system,” Senator Wyden said. “That’s why reforming chronic care is my number one health care priority. Anyone who has a chronic illness or cares for someone who does knows there are barriers to high-quality, efficient and effective care. We must fix that.”PFCD Chairman Ken Thorpe, Ph.D., will speak about the challenges stemming from chronic disease. Dr. Thorpe is Professor and Chair at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, as well as a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.“Medicare beneficiaries with four or more chronic conditions are 99 times more likely to be hospitalized for a medical need that could have been prevented with appropriate primary care compared to beneficiaries without a chronic condition,” said Dr. Thorpe. “Given the many concerns about quality of life for seniors and significantly increasing healthcare costs, improving care coordination is critical to better management of chronic disease and more effective treatment of both Medicare and Medicaid patients.”About The Partnership to Fight Chronic DiseaseThe Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is an internationally-recognized NGO of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs: chronic disease. For a collection of statistics and commentary on the impact of chronic disease, please visit