Federal funding will educate seniors to self-manage chronic illnesses

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grants teach self-manage chronic diseaseCongresswoman Laura Richardson announced that California has received $1 million for improving the ability of seniors to self-manage chronic diseases like diabetes and arthritis. The funds are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and have been awarded to the state’s Department on Aging by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“In far too many homes in the 37th District, our senior parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles have seen their quality of life limited because of chronic illness,” Congresswoman Richardson said. “This funding will develop programs in the state that will help our seniors by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to properly care for their illnesses, which will help them to live more full lives.”

Chronic disease can negatively affect quality of life and threaten the ability of older adults to remain independent within their own homes and communities.  The more chronic diseases an individual has, the more likely that individual will become hospitalized.  Two-thirds of Medicare spending is for beneficiaries with five or more chronic conditions.

“The number of older adults with chronic conditions will increase dramatically in the coming years as our aging population grows,” said Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, whose agency, the Administration on Aging (AoA), will administer the grants.  “This opportunity will allow states to build the foundation for an infrastructure that embeds health prevention programs into the nation’s health and long term care system and expands a system of care that addresses the growing prevalence of chronic conditions.”

The Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which serves as a model for this initiative, emphasizes the patients’ role in managing their illness and building their self-confidence so they can be successful in adopting healthy behaviors.

The first baby boomers will turn 65 in 2011 and of these, more than 37 million—or 6 out of 10—will be managing more than one chronic condition by 2030.  For example, 14 million boomers will be living with diabetes while almost half of the boomers will live with arthritis (that number peaks to just over 26 million in 2020).

State agencies on aging, public health departments, and Medicaid agencies will work together to support the deployment of evidence-based chronic disease self-management programs targeted at older adults with chronic conditions.  Grantees will serve at least 50,000 older adults and gather evidence regarding the impact of these programs on health behavior and the health status outcomes of the participants.

Two federal evaluation activities will complement required state reporting. Additionally, AoA will collaborate with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop a pilot test in one state as a quality assurance process that will track Medicare claims data of chronic disease self-management program participants and Medicare beneficiaries not participating in the program.  Data from all these sources will be used to assess the impact of this Recovery Act program on participant health behaviors, health status, health care utilization and health care costs.

The grant is part of the Communities Putting Prevention to Work Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which provides funds so states can administer self-management programs to seniors with chronic diseases, build statewide delivery systems and develop the workforce that delivers these programs.

To see the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program State Funding Table, visit www.hhs.gov/recovery/cdc/awardschronicdisease.html. To learn more about the Chronic Disease Self-management Program grantees, visit http://www.aoa.gov/AoAroot/PRESS_Room/News/2009/03_18_09.aspx

Congresswoman Richardson is a Democrat from California’s 37th Congressional District.  She is a member of the House Committees on Transportation & Infrastructure and Homeland Security and is chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response.  Her district includes Long Beach, Compton, Carson, Watts, Willowbrook and Signal Hill.

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