Capitol Hill Chronic Disease Briefing

The Congressional Wellness Caucus and the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) hosted a briefing on June 26th, 2014 about the impact of chronic, non communicable disease and look beyond just medical costs to more holistically consider total productivity, particularly among the federal workforce.

According to a modeling tool developed by the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), federal employees are estimated to incur $27.2 billion annually in medical treatment payments, lost productivity, and wage replacements associated with illness-related absences and underperformance on the job. Of those losses, illness related productivity losses and wage replacements surpass medical costs for employees and their dependents by 26 percent. IBI’s model is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and proprietary sources. The results are an estimate for 2.6 million federal employees (including the U.S. Postal Service).

Highlighted by U.S. Representative Erik Paulsen (R-MN), this event, Chronic Disease, Productivity, and Policy Implications, uncovered startling cost data that begs for a broader perspective and greater action by both the public and private sectors to better address overall health as both an employee goal and a business imperative.

"Employers are making critical decisions about healthcare coverage and financing. To realize the full value of their programs, employer decisions – both private and public-- must encompass the impact of health and chronic disease on lost work time, workforce performance and productivity,” said Dr. Thomas Parry, IBI President.

Recent outcomes from a pilot program spearheaded by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) demonstrate the potential value of investing in well-being improvement. Today’s event highlights the impressive outcomes OPM achieved, and how the agency applied the Gallup-Healthways’ Well-Being Index to measure success in its award-winning WellnessWorks program.

“With one in two American suffering from at least one chronic disease, every workforce is affected significantly – including federal employees – and would benefit from prevention and wellness strategies to improve health and also productivity,” said Ken Thorpe, PFCD Chairman. “Efforts to improve overall health of employees have strong evidence of return on investment, and as our workforce ages, health improvement will be increasingly linked to economic wellness so taking action now is critical. As policymakers look for key initiatives to save costs, reducing the social and economic impact of chronic disease among the federal workforce should be at the top of the list.”

Featured panel speakers included:

• The Honorable Erik Paulsen (R-MN) Congressional Wellness Caucus Chair
• Dr. Thomas Parry, President, Integrated Benefits Institute
• Dr. Ken Thorpe, Chairman, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
• Dr. Bruce Sherman, Medical Director, Employer’s Health Coalition
• Charlie Moore, Vice President, Healthways Government Market

Assets