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The 19-member Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Task Force was created by Public Act 95-900 to consider ways to reduce the burden of chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, arthritis and diabetes – in Illinois. These conditions reduce the quality of life, shorten lives and are responsible for rising health care costs.

Chronic diseases account for seven in 10 deaths and affect the quality of life of more than half the state’s residents (6.7 million people). And while the human costs of chronic disease are enormous, the economic costs are also huge. Studies have found that Illinois has spent more than $12.5 billion a year in health care dollars to treat chronic diseases. The financial burden from the impact of lost work days and lower employee productivity during the same period resulted in an annual economic loss of $43.6 billion.

These same studies have concluded that improvements in preventing and managing chronic diseases could drastically reduce future costs associated with chronic disease and conclude the most effective way to curtail health care spending is to take measures aimed a preventing disease before they must be treated.

Chronic diseases are largely preventable non-communicable conditions associated with what people do, or not do, as they go about the business of daily living. Health-damaging behavior, in particular tobacco use, alcohol abuse, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition, are major contributors to heart disease and cancer, the nation’s leading causes of death.

The charge to the task force is to make recommendations on reforming the delivery system for chronic disease prevention and health promotion, ensuring adequate funding for infrastructure and delivery of programs, addressing health disparities, and considering the role of health promotion and chronic disease prevention in support of state spending on health care.

The task force has scheduled three public hearings in November 2010 to solicit input on chronic disease prevention and control and submit its recommendations in a report to the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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