Coalition of Health and Consumer Advocates Issue New Joint Statement on Delivery System Health Reform and Chronic Care

Alexandria,
March 26, 2009

Today the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and Consumers Union issued a statement supporting health care reform that not only expands coverage, but fundamentally changes the way health care is delivered in this country. U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) were featured speakers. In addition, Dr. Timothy Gardner, President, American Heart Association; Gina Gavlak, RN, BSN, American Diabetes Association; Jim Guest, President/CEO, Consumers Union; and Dan Smith, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, also spoke. At the event, Consumers Union released new polling data, http://www.consumersunion.org/pdf/medical-error-poll-309.pdf (69 KB PDF), about the challenges Americans face with our health care delivery system.

Gina Gavlak, Vice Chair of ADA's Advocacy Committee speaking at a Senate briefing on health care reform.  Senator Whitehouse's response: "Gina, you are the best witness for prevention that I've ever heard, and I hope that we can come back and do it again in front of other audiences. It is such an important point."
Our health care system is in desperate need of reform. The number of uninsured Americans exceeds 45 million; health care costs are rising faster than incomes; and health disparities persist. Although we spend at least twice as much per capita on health care as our major trading partners, we rank 37th in the World Health Organization's evaluation of health systems worldwide. The signs and symptoms of a broken health care system are numerous and unmistakable, and we must address not only coverage and access, but fundamental delivery-system reform, to truly cure what ails us.

The major chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke—account for three out of every four deaths in the United States, and the estimated total direct and indirect health care costs for these chronic diseases exceed $700 billion each year. These staggering human and economic costs will increase as our population ages and as risk factors common to cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease rise.

For Americans who struggle with a chronic disease, failure of the health care system to provide quality care throughout the life stages compounds the problems of coverage and cost. Much of America's chronic disease burden could be avoided through better coordination of care, and by applying known best practices to prevent the onset and progression of these conditions at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

While insurance coverage for all Americans is an important goal, we must give equal weight in the health care reform debate to changes that improve the quality of care, increase and improve the delivery of preventive services, and ensure that individuals always receive care that is safe, efficient, and without unnecessary interventions, tests, and treatment. To achieve these goals, we must make structural changes: improve our health information technology infrastructure; align financial incentives with evidence-based and cost-effective decision making; and develop a reliable process for assessing the health value of new technologies.

The promise of these delivery-system reform measures to lower costs is the most humane avenue to a financially sustainable health care system.

The American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association, joined by Consumers Union, share a common objective: to reduce the toll of chronic disease on individuals, families, and our nation. Although coverage for all Americans is a vital component of this change, a simultaneous effort aimed at securing high-quality, cost-effective preventive care is equally important.

We believe that the time for comprehensive health care reform has arrived. Our organizations will work together to help create a health care system capable of consistently delivering the most effective, patient-centered care. These efforts will improve the quality of life and health outcomes for millions of people who suffer from a chronic disease and lead to more efficient use of our nation's health resources.

 

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.