The seemingly endless election season is now well underway in the U.S., with months and months of campaign advertisements still to disrupt your regularly scheduled programming. While some may focus on personality attacks and policy minutiae, other groups are hoping to get the candidates talking about substantive issues.

Recognizing the Problem

As of October 2015, more than a year prior to the presidential elections, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease increased its efforts to garner attention for chronic diseases, according to Radio Iowa. The group is targeting the key states in the election process, as it is focusing on Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire.

The group is hoping that some type of tangible societal and legislative changes will be made by bringing attention to the consequences of chronic illnesses.

“We hear a lot about healthcare costs and costs to consumers, but we’re not hearing a lot about what we can do to help people be healthier,” said Candace DeMatteis, policy director for the group. “I would love to see health as the focus in policies that aren’t just about medical care…but, really look at health as a building block to economic growth and opportunities for Americans.”

The New Hampshire chapter of the partnership is focused on educating policymakers, especially those running for the nation’s highest office, on the costs of chronic diseases. According to The Keene Sentinel, these diseases are huge problems – both in terms of money and hardship – for people in the Granite State, which mirrors the national trend.

“The diverse spectrum of partners and four co-chairs representing New Hampshire patients, health care and faith groups have a simple message,” Ken Thorpe, president of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, told reporters in New Hampshire. “We cannot address the rising cost of health care without addressing chronic diseases.”

By making strides in key campaign states, Thorpe and others are hoping to make the problem visible to the entire country, according to the Manchester Union Leader.

Shocking Numbers

These strides need to be made because of the significant portion of overall U.S. healthcare expenditures that are represented by chronic diseases. The partnership noted that their advertising campaign is targeting the costs represented by a pretty shocking statistic: 130 million Americans with chronic diseases cost more than $2.5 trillion annually.

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Thorpe added that while healthcare has become a politically divisive issue, both side can agree that there are certain problems that bridge the party divide. Thus, he feels that voters should get involved and demand that candidates actually address the issues regarding healthcare, and not just regurgitate platitudes and make promises.

“As we look to our future leaders, the PFCD calls on all voters to ask candidates how they plan to address chronic disease and advance policy solutions that will improve both personal health and the overall health of the economy, said Thorpe.

Healthcare costs are an issue for many American families, and given that half of all adults suffer from at least one chronic disease – almost one-third suffer from two or more – something needs to be done at the national level. Whether bringing attention to these diseases during national debates will spark any action, it can’t hurt to try.