Nationwide Health Tracking Act of 2002
Chronic diseases are responsible for 70% of all deaths in America, but there is no national system for adequately tracking these diseases and environmental factors that may be related to them. With the incidence of chronic diseases like cancer, asthma and birth defects on the rise, we need information to better identify their causes and develop prevention programs.
On March 21st, 2002, new legislation was introduced in Congress by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Peter King (R-NY), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY). The Nationwide Health Tracking Act of 2002 (H.R.4061/S.2054) would establish a Nationwide Health Tracking Network to track when and where chronic diseases occur, as well as their potential links to environmental factors.
The Network would coordinate national, state, and local efforts to inform communities, public health officials, researchers, and policymakers of potential environmental health risks. This information will be used to target resources and strengthen our capacity to identify, understand, rapidly respond to, and prevent chronic disease.
Please approach all members of Congress and especially those you think would be less receptive to the legislation and urge them to co-sponsor the Nationwide Health Tracking Act of 2002 (H.R.4061/S.2054).
- Call your Representatives through the Capitol switchboard (202) 225-3121.
As Catholics, we are called to participate intimately in sustaining God's creation by caring for our children and their physical environment. We are particularly concerned about the poor and the powerless who most directly bear the burden and suffer disproportionately from the effects of environmental problems that may be causing diseases like cancer and asthma, and harming children, born and unborn. "The whole human race suffers as a result of environmental blight, and generations yet unborn will bear the price for the failure to act today," Renewing the Face of the Earth, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1991.
For more information on children's health and the environment, contact Roxana Barillas at 202- 541-3445, firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 3rd, 2002
On behalf of [your diocese or Catholic institution], we write to urge you to co-sponsor the Nationwide Health Tracking Act of 2002 (H.R.4061).
The United States provides an extensive medical system to treat people once they are sick. While this treatment system is indispensable, our nation does far too little to prevent many illnesses. We are concerned that the incidence of chronic diseases like cancer, asthma and birth defects is on the rise. Better prevention programs might decrease the incidence of disease, but our nation lacks a viable national system for adequately monitoring chronic diseases and their possible causes. By tracking when and where these diseases occur, and examining some of their underlying causes, e.g., environmental factors, public health officials and communities could use this information to improve or develop prevention strategies.
We are particularly concerned about the poor, the powerless and children who most often directly bear the burden and suffer disproportionately from the environmental degradation that may be causing or contributing to these diseases. The lands and neighborhoods where the poor live are more likely to be polluted or to host toxic waste dumps. Their water supplies are more likely to be contaminated, or in some cases, undrinkable. In addition, these environmental and health problems are more harmful to children than adults, because of their greater exposure to air pollutants and toxins. This exposure is worsened by children's smaller body size and play habits that make them more vulnerable to disease. Children in poverty and children of color are at a disproportionate risk, with routinely higher rates of lead poisoning, and asthma-related deaths and hospitalizations.
A nationwide network would cost an estimated $275 million or less than $1 for every American. In fiscal year 2002, Congress appropriated $17.5 million as a down payment on the network to be used to begin several state programs for health tracking. We urge you to support the President in his request to include health tracking as a priority in next year's budget.
We thank you for your leadership in seeking to protect the health of families and communities across America by establishing a Nationwide Health Tracking Network.