Two former Iowa Governors are co-chairs on a bipartisan panel that’s seeking to make the battle against chronic disease a key campaign issue for presidential candidates. The "Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease" includes former Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, who is now the president of Des Moines University, a medical school.
Branstad says the U.S. spends two trillion dollars on health care each year and 75-percent is spent on chronic diseases. "The rising rates of chronic disease are literally crippling our health care system in America, and have the potential to bring our economy down," Branstad says, "the good things is, we can, if we get involved now, make a difference, and make a change."
Branstad says Iowa is not the only state that battles chronic disease, as seven out of ten deaths in the U.S. are attributed to chronic diseases. Branstad Iowa has a unique opportunity as, "we are at the epicenter of the beginning of the political process of selecting the next President of the United States, so Iowa is the focus." Leaders from unions, health care and faith-based organizations are also part of the effort.
"This historic partnership will build awareness about treatment and prevention of chronic diseases throughout Iowa," Branstad says, "and we as Iowans need to use our unique role in the beginning of this presidential selection process to talk to the candidates, and to really bring home how important it is to deal with these issues of prevention, and appropriate methods of dealing with chronic diseases."
Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, says it’s important that Iowa take the lead. Vilsack says: "This isn’t just a chance that we have in the state of Iowa, it is a responsibility. And the reality is that the future of this country depends on us getting this thing solved. why? The Governor mentioned that we spend two-trillion dollars today on health care. That’s more than any industrialized nation spends per-capita. And unfortunately, we do not have the best results for the money we spend."
Vilsack says things will get worse unless something is done. Vilsack says as the nation ages, the amount spent on health care will go from two to four trillion dollars unless something is done. Vilsack says it will end up hurting the ability of the country to compete in a global economy. Both governors say both parties need to work together to solve the health care problem.
Vilsack says, this is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue, it’s "an American issue," and Vilsack says it’s important that everyone join together and "demand of our national leaders that this issue be addressed."
Branstad says all Iowans should be asking the presidential candidates about the issue. Branstad says: "When you are confronted by one of the candidates, and it’s pretty hard not to be. Whether it’s a coffee shop, a pancake breakfast, or just if they come door-to-door in your neighborhood. Bring this issue up…and find out where they stand and what they intend to do about it."
The coalition plans what it calls a "grassroots" campaign in Iowa and other campaign states to get the candidates to address the healthcare issue. For more information, surf to: www.fightchronicdisease.org .