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States Target Chronic Disease to Trim Health Care Costs

More lawmakers at the state level seem to be fully grasping the significant saving potential of primary prevention policies, as evidenced by the annual winter Governor’s Association meeting. According to an article from the American Medical Association (AMA), typically partisan state leaders were in agreement on one key area during the meeting in Washington: prevention strategies targeting chronic conditions will be key to containing costs and improving public health.

Governors used the event to swap ideas over how to ensure the sustainability of the health system and state budgets, says the AMA. "This is an emerging area for states: the growing understanding that prevention of health conditions that lead to high health costs is a worthwhile investment," Alan Weil, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, told AMA. "States are still in the middle stages of learning what works. But we are seeing some public health interventions that are having an effect."

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, interventions such as physical activity programs, smoking cessation and cancer screenings could save as many as 2 million lives and $4 billion annually.

Successful interventions discussed at the meeting included a smoking cessation program in Massachusetts and Iowa’s “Healthiest State” Initiative. Also, a pilot program estimated to save roughly $16 billion over 5 years was discussed. Ten pilot communities will test a host of interventions in schools, businesses and the community—such as physical activity campaigns, employee wellness programs and changes to restaurant menus—aimed at improving healthy behaviors.

Read the full article… 

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