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Statement from Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease Chairman Dr. Kenneth Thorpe on the Confirmation of HHS Secretary Alex Azar

"The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) congratulates Alex Azar on his confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and affirms our commitment to working with him to ensure our health care system works effectively to promote health and well-being in America. Secretary Azar will have a lead role in shaping health care for hundreds of millions of Americans, including the nearly 60 percent of Americans who have at least one chronic condition. In carrying out his duties, we urge him to address the growing burden of chronic illness in America by assuring that people have meaningful, affordable access to recommended care and services needed to avoid the onset and progression of chronic diseases and their costly complications."

  • Today, more nearly 60 percent of all Americans have at least one chronic condition, and many have two or more. In fact, nearly one in two working-age adults aged 45-64 have more than one chronic condition. Even among younger adults, nearly one in five 18-44 year olds have more than one chronic condition. The first onset of a chronic condition among working-age adults occurs on average at age 44, during prime working years.
  • The high prevalence of chronic conditions is costly both in terms of medical spending and economic losses. Researchers estimate that 90 cents of every dollar the U.S. spends on health care goes to treating people with one or more chronic condition.  A new economic model developed by IHS Markit estimates that 12 chronic conditions and 17 different cancers cost the U.S. economy more than $790 billion a year in economic losses above and beyond $2 trillion a year in medical costs associated with chronic illnesses.
  • Yet, according to the CDC, with better prevention of disease onset and progression, we could save 1.1 million people a year.
  • Medical advances are desperately needed to address unmet medical needs for Alzheimer's disease and many other serious chronic conditions.  A medical breakthrough to delay Alzheimer's disease onset by just 5 years, could spare 2.6 million people from developing the devastating disease and avoid $650 in medical and caregiving costs - all within five years of the breakthrough.