HHS Awards $212M to Combat Chronic Diseases

The money, funded in part by the Affordable Care Act, was awarded Sept. 25 to 193 programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is sending $212 million to state and local programs that work to fight chronic diseases.

The money, funded in part by the Affordable Care Act, was awarded Sept. 25 to 193 programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“These grants will empower our partners to reduce rates of death and disability due to tobacco use, reduce obesity prevalence, and reduce rates of death and disability due to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, in a press release.

The awards are being weighted towards populations with high rates of chronic diseases.

“Tobacco use, high blood pressure, and obesity are leading preventable causes of death in the United States,” said Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is administering the grants.

The agency says reducing rates of chronic diseases will also have the effect of lowering the nation’s healthcare costs.

Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths of Americans each year, HHS said, accounting for more than 80% of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual healthcare bill.

In a press release announcing his state’s share of the money, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said the grants will help improve healthcare affordability in the US.

"These grants support programs that provide education and preventive care to communities across our state and will save taxpayers money down the road by preventing serious illnesses instead of merely treating them,” he said.

Earlier this week, HHS announced $99 million in grants to help treat mental illness in young people. That funding includes money to help train 4,000 new mental health providers.

The mental health funding was part of President Obama’s initiative to reduce gun violence. One facet of that plan was working to ensure those with mental health problems find treatment.