Washington, DC – For the first time since World War I, deaths from preventable diseases in the United States have decreased life expectancy for three consecutive years. It is an alarming statistic that is explored in a new book by Dr. Anand Parekh, chief medical advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center. In Prevention First, Parekh argues that the only way to reduce preventable diseases, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, obesity, opioid addiction, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is to make preventing these health conditions our nation’s top priority. Today, six in ten Americans now live with chronic diseases, which account for 90% of our nation’s health care expenditures.
Parekh’s book comes on the heels of a stunning new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shows death rates from suicides, drug overdoses, alcohol addiction, and other causes have been increasing over the past ten years for young and middle-aged adults. Parekh co-authored an editorial about the study with researchers Dr. Howard Koh and Dr. John Park, which resonates with insights in his book.
Drawing on his experiences as a clinician, chief medical advisor for BPC, and former deputy assistant secretary of health in the Department of Health and Human Services under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Parekh provides the steps policymakers should take to promote prevention within and outside the health care sector. He emphasizes that in order to optimize health in America, elected officials and policymakers must leverage health insurance programs to promote disease prevention, expand primary care, focus on the social determinants of health, enable consumers to make healthier choices, and increase investments in public health.
“Tackling preventable health conditions in the United States is now more urgent than ever before as hundreds of thousands of Americans are suffering potentially preventable deaths each year,” said Parekh. “Improving population health will require policymakers to reinvest in prevention, primary care, and public health. Only a resolute commitment to preventing disease by individuals and society will maximize our nation’s health and quality of life.”
“Dr. Parekh’s book is a reminder that we have a shared responsibility to improve the health status of all Americans. Generations from now, people will look back and ask why we didn’t do more to cover the uninsured, control health care costs, improve quality, and reduce disparities. But the real question will be why we allowed hundreds of thousands of potentially preventable deaths in America each year,” said former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, BPC co-founder, and Bill Frist, M.D., BPC senior fellow, who wrote the book’s foreword.
About the Author
Anand K. Parekh, M.D., M.P.H., a board-certified internal medicine physician, is the chief medical advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center where he has led policy projects on opioids, HIV/AIDS, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and obesity, among others. Previously, he completed a decade of service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As a deputy assistant secretary for health from 2008 to 2015, Parekh developed and implemented national initiatives focused on prevention, wellness, and care management.
For more information about Dr. Parekh’s book and to schedule an interview, please contact BPC Senior Communications Advisor Joann Donnellan 703-966-1990 [email protected]