Maryland leaders address health reform, cite urgency of chronic disease prevention

7/6/2009

BALTIMORE The Maryland Pharmacists Association has joined with 40 other health and industry groups in the state in an urgent bid to manage the growing chronic disease crisis and health reform efforts in the United States.

The move comes in response to the debate now raging in Congress over the future of the nation’s healthcare system. State and local leaders met Saturday at the Baltimore Medical System at Saint Agnes Hospital Community Care Center to call for comprehensive reforms to address the growing crisis of chronic disease in Maryland and nationwide.

Those leaders, representing 41 different organizations, have formed the Maryland chapter of The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. PFCD is a coalition committed to making chronic disease prevention and management a major part of comprehensive health reform. The goal: to mobilize the nation’s policy-makers and the healthcare system to shift the vast machinery of chronic care into more cost-effective and effective modes of preventive care, drug utilization and lifestyle management.

Among those serving on the group’s leadership panel: former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Sharon Allison-Ottey, a physician and executive director of The COSHAR Foundation; and Miguel McInnis, CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers.

Townsend spoke of the urgency driving PFCD’s efforts. “We are in crisis,” she said July 2. “The cost of chronic disease is unsustainable. “Our healthcare system is not making us healthy, and we have to change,” she added. “We need to exercise, eat well and get regular check ups.”

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group noted that chronic diseases are responsible for 7-of-every-10 deaths in the United States, taking the lives of more than 1.7 million Americans each year and accounting for more than 75% of the nation’s annual healthcare bill of more than $2 trillion.

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