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North Carolina Coalition for Healthy Solutions Announces Formation; Launches Statewide Economic Impact Study.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Policy Makers, Business Leaders and Health Care Professionals Join Forces to Show Benefits of Providing Wellness and Prevention Programs to the State's Workforce

A group of North Carolina policy makers, community leaders and business leaders have teamed up to deliver the message that investments in prevention and wellness reduce costly disease. Today, they announced the formation of the North Carolina Coalition for Healthy Solutions (NCCHS). The group seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of maintaining a healthy workforce in North Carolina through innovative wellness and prevention programs that provide workers ready access to the tools they need to be healthy and manage illness. NCCHS leaders also announced their intent to kick off a statewide economic impact study to examine the effects of disease and illness among North Carolina workers and how that translates into total costs to businesses and the state.

The economic study will look at the costs of disease and illness to North Carolinians and provide data on the benefits of implementing prevention programs to both public and private organizations in the state. The six-month study is expected to show evidence that making investments in workers' health and increasing access to preventive care can help lower overall health care costs.

"Investing in a healthy workforce pays off for both employees and employers," said Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue, chair of the NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund. "Effective workplace wellness programs in North Carolina will lower health care costs, reduce absenteeism and workplace injuries, and increase productivity."

"The need for this Coalition is great right now," said Tony Copeland, assistant secretary for business development and trade of the N.C. Department of Commerce and NCCHS Advisory Board member. "Investing in prevention and wellness is an important way to improve health and manage costs and we want to make sure North Carolina business leaders and policymakers understand that keeping our workforce healthy will help keep costs manageable."

Rising health care costs are driving both the public and private sectors to look for alternative solutions. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, in 2004 health benefit payments cost private U.S. employers $523.6B. On a local level, payments, including health benefits, for retired state employees in North Carolina cost taxpayers $13.5B per year.

"Disease robs people of their health, decreases their quality of life and imposes enormous financial burdens on them, their families and the health system," said Dr. Prashant Patel, director of The Diabetes Center in Cary and member of the NCCHS Advisory Board. "Keeping people as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, can improve quality of life and keep costs down."

About the North Carolina Coalition for Healthy Solutions (NCCHS)

The North Carolina Coalition for Healthy Solutions (NCCHS) seeks to raise awareness of the benefits of maintaining a healthy workforce through innovative programs that provide workers ready access to the tools they need to stay healthy and manage illness. Members of the Coalition include the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists, the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, Be Active North Carolina, the North Carolina Restaurant Association and Pfizer, Inc. The Coalition's Advisory Board includes Assistant Secretary for the N.C. Department of Commerce, Tony Copeland; Dr. Prashant Patel, director of The Diabetes Center; Scott Daugherty, executive director of the Small Business and Technical Development Center; Sheila Ogle, chief executive officer of MRPP, Inc.; Abdul Sm Rasheed, chief executive officer of the North Carolina Community Development Initiative; Herb Steward, senior vice president for bioMerieux; and Keith Crisco, president of Asheboro Elastics. Policy makers who have pledged their support include NC Representatives Linda Coleman and Hugh Holliman. For more information, please contact NCCHS at 1-888-817-0830 or visit
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Sep 6, 2006
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