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Chronic illnesses must become higher legislative priority to help reduce “never-ending spiral of additional costs”

Developing new state laws and policies that address the long-term impact of chronic illnesses, especially those caused by unhealthy lifestyles, will help the Texas Legislature more effectively deal with the costs of health care in the state, says Susan Turley, President of DHR Health. “The State of Texas has to address chronic illnesses. If we don’t address chronic illnesses – and this starts at birth – it’s a never-ending spiral of additional costs,” Turley told a statewide audience on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 during The Future of Health Care Symposium hosted by DHR Health at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, and carried live on the Internet by the Texas Tribune. Although chronic illness and chronic disease are often used interchangeably in the clinical literature and in health services policy and organization, they convey different meanings that require clarification (Table 14–6). Chronic illness is the personal experience of living with the affliction that often accompanies chronic disease. Chronic disease is defined on the basis of the biomedical disease classification, and includes diabetes, asthma, and depression. “If we don’t get a handle on that, the downstream impacts of lifestyle, I can tell a patient all day long how much it’s going cost them to get treated,” Turley reflected. “But that does nothing to bend the curve on lowering the cost, both for them personally on their out-of-pocket, for their employer, and ultimately for the taxpayers.” According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. They are also leading drivers of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual health care costs. Many chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors: • Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke; • Poor nutrition, including diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and saturated fats; • Lack of physical activity; and • Excessive alcohol use. “Out of pocket” is the maximum amount of a person’s own money they will have to pay for care during the year, according to HealthMarkets.com. Think of the out-of-pocket limit as your deductible + coinsurance + copayments (if your plan has them) up to a total dollar amount. Turley was one of five statewide figures who participated in Getting a Handle on Costs, which was one of major panel discussions that was part of The Future of Health Care Symposium. Joining her for the panel discussion, which ...

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