$103M in government funding targets chronic disease

States and communities nationwide will receive more than $103M from the federal government to help combat chronic illness, pegged as the leading cause of death in Americans. The money is aimed at developing new programs and providing technical assistance.

Most chronic disease programs employ information technology as a means of tracking patient conditions and reporting to statewide and national registries.

Department of Health and Human Services officials announced the grants Tuesday and said they would be disbursed to 61 states and communities reaching more than 120 million residents.

Created by the Affordable Care Act, Community Transformation Grants help states and communities tackle the root causes of chronic disease, such as smoking, poor diet and lack of physical activity.

Chronic diseases are responsible for 75 percent of healthcare costs in the United States, according to government statistics. The root causes of chronic disease are often related to economic, social and physical factors such as tobacco use or a lack of places to exercise.

"Good health begins at home and in our own communities,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The Affordable Care Act is empowering Americans across the country to truly transform their communities by investing in programs that make us all healthier. These grants will offer communities the opportunity to both improve Americans' health and control healthcare spending by avoiding costly, chronic diseases in the first place."

All grantees will work to address the following priority areas:

  1. tobacco-free living;
  2. active living and healthy eating; and
  3. quality clinical and other preventive services, specifically prevention and control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Grantees may also focus on creating healthy and safe environments. Grantees will have an additional focus on reducing health disparities since, in addition to lacking access to the healthcare they need, many lower-income Americans, racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations often have higher rates of disease, said Sebelius.

Grantee activities include:

  • Implementation -- Thirty-five grantees will implement proven interventions to help improve health and wellness. Funding amounts range from $500,000 to $10 million depending on population size and scope of project.
  • Capacity Building -- Twenty-six grantees will work to build capacity by laying a solid foundation for sustainable community prevention efforts. Funding amounts range from $147,000 to $500,000 depending on population size and scope of project.

Awards are distributed among state and local government agencies, tribes and territories, and nonprofit organizations. Awards went to grantees in 36 states, including seven tribal organizations and one territory. The grants are expected to run for five years.

"Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are taking a devastating toll on America's health," said Thomas Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will administer the grants. "This initiative will build on successful programs that have helped people lead healthier lives and will enable communities and states to improve the healthy choices for their residents."

Earlier this month, HHS announced awards to seven national networks of community-based organizations that will help support, disseminate, and amplify the work done in Community Transformation Grant states and communities. The networks will engage community members in identifying solutions to improve health using community-based prevention strategies that work and can be models for other locations.

See the next page for a complete list of the funded states and communities.

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