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Chronic Disease Prevention: Saving Lives, Saving Money

Friday, July 13, 2012

With a continued focus on the need to control the high and rising cost of care, Congress is looking for low cost, high yield policy solutions. Chronic illnesses are among the biggest drivers of growing health care costs, and a drain on worker productivity in our nation. For example, researchers note that per person health care spending for obese adults is 56 percent higher than for normal-weight adults. Diabetes and other chronic illnesses can be prevented or greatly delayed with solutions beyond or outside of medical care. Many fall into the category of health-related behaviors, such as whether we smoke, get exercise, eat a healthy diet-- factors that are newly falling into the spheres of public health or population health.

Researchers have found that doing any ONE of three things -- expanding health insurance coverage, improving the quality of care, or expanding community and behavioral prevention -- was valuable for saving lives, but with some added costs in the first 10 years. But of those three, community prevention was the ONLY intervention that saved lives and money in the long run to the tune of four and a half million lives and nearly $600 billion over 25 years. 

Innovative public health initiatives are attracting businesses, improving workplace wellness, and providing a spark to local economies, but is there evidence that public health investments can help prevent chronic disease and reduce escalating health care costs? And how does CBO view these with regard to cutting the deficit and/or affecting long-term costs/savings to the health care system? What can we learn from our experience with tobacco cessation programs? Have initiatives on the local level been effective? How can public health efforts intersect with clinical care? What new initiatives are being designed on the state level? Are these being supported by federal policy and federal funds?

To address these questions and more, the Alliance for Health Reform and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a July 13 briefing. Panelists were: Ursula Bauer, CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; Thomas Farley, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Matthew Myers, Tobacco-Free Kids Campaign; and Linda Bilheimer, Congressional Budget Office. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.

Dr. Bilheimer of the Congressional Budget Office discussed a new CBO in-depth analysis showing how one type of health intervention -- reducing smoking -- could impact federal deficits for the next 50 years, in addition to saving lives. The study is important since to do it, CBO analyzed a number of long-range and secondary factors, such as productivity increases.


 Ed Howard, Alliance For Health Reform, Moderator
 Ursula Bauer, CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Speaker
 Thomas Farley, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Speaker
 Matthew Myers, Tobacco-Free Kids Campaign, Speaker
 Linda Bilheimer, Congressional Budget Office, Speaker
(Click on the camera icon to see a video of the speaker's presentation.)

Transcript, Event Summary and/or Webcast and Podcast

Transcript: Briefing Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 7/18/2012
Full Webcast/Podcast: Full Video LInk

The full webcast and podcast for this briefing, as well as videos of individual speakers' presentations, are provided by Kaiser Family Foundation.

Speaker Presentations

Ursula Bauer's Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 7/13/2012
Linda Billheimer's Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 7/13/2012
Thomas Farley's Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 7/13/2012
Matthew Myers' Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF), 7/13/2012

(If you want to download one or more slides from these presentations, contact us at info@allhealth or click here for instructions.)

Source Materials

Source List (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 7/13/2012
Materials List (Adobe Acrobat PDF), , 7/13/2012

Offsite Materials (briefing documents saved on other websites)

Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation, Institute of Medicine, 5/1/2012
Redefining Public Health In New York City, The Lancet, 6/2/2012
- Alcorn, Ted
Can The U.S. Tackle Runaway Health Care Costs And Increase Life Expectancy At The Same Time? (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 4/1/2012
How Does An Investment In Prevention Improve Public Health? (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 9/1/2011
Living Well with Chronic Illness: A Call for Public Health Action., Institute of Medicine, 1/1/2012
Lots to Lose: How America’s Health and Obesity Crisis Threatens our Economic Future, Bipartisan Policy Center, 6/1/2012
Can Behavioral Economics Combat Obesity? (Adobe Acrobat PDF),CATO Institute, 6/19/2012
- Marlow, Michael and Sherzod Abdukadirov
Why Behavioral And Environmental Interventions Are Needed To Improve Health At Lower Cost., Health Affairs, 5/1/2011
- Milstein, Bobby, Jack Homer, et al.
The Prevention and Public Health Fund, Health Affairs: Health Policy Brief, 2/23/2012
Raising the Excise Tax on Cigarettes, Congressional Budget Office, 6/13/2012
Health of Americans a Mixed Bag: CDC Report, U.S. News & World Report, 6/19/2012
- Reinberg, Steven
Return on Investments in Public Health: Saving Lives and Money (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 3/1/2012
Comprehensive Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs Effectively Reduce Tobacco Use (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 7/5/2012
- Riordan, Meg
State Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Saves Money (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 1/9/2012
- Riordan, Meg
The Role of Prevention in Bending the Cost Curve, Urban Institute, 11/1/2011
- Waidmann, Timothy, Barbara Ormond, and Randall Bovbjerg
A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 11/30/2011
Addressing Chronic Disease through Community Health Workers: A Policy Brief on Community Health Workers (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12/9/2011
“Food and Beverage Marketing to Children and Adolscents: An Environment at Odds with Good Health (Adobe Acrobat PDF),Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 4/1/2011
Assessing the Economics of Obesity and Obesity Interventions, Campaign to End Obesity, 3/1/2012
- O’Grady, Michael, and James Capretta
Primary Care and Public Health: Exploring Integration to Improve Population Health, Institute of Medicine, 3/1/2012


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