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Education Article

30 National Organizations Issue Call to Action for Congress to Fully Fund Falls Prevention Programming in CDC Budget

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Policy groups representing millions of older adults, safety advocates and health professionals today called for Congress to add $20.7 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to address the growing, large-scale problem of falls among older Americans.

Each year, one in three older Americans (65 and older) falls and about 30% of those who fall require medical treatment. The most recent data shows that 1.8 million older adults were treated in emergency departments for injuries from falls, 433,000 were hospitalized, and nearly 16,000 died. CDC reports the mortality rate from falls among older Americans has increased 39% between 1999 and 2005.

"For adults over age 65, falls and injuries from falls are a major threat to health, independence, and their quality of life," said James Firman, president and CEO of the National Council on Aging.

The cost of doing nothing is escalating. According to the CDC, more than $19 billion annually is spent on treating the elderly for the adverse effects of falls: $12 billion for hospitalization, $4 billion for emergency department visits, and $3 billion for outpatient care. Most of these expenses are paid for by CMS through Medicare. It is projected that direct treatment costs from elder falls will escalate to $43.8 billion annually by 2020.

"Among the greatest financial challenges facing the U.S. Government, its citizens and their employers is stemming the rising cost of healthcare services," said AARP Senior Vice President David Sloane. "Significant progress can be made if we can reduce the frequency and severity of falls among older Americans."

William O'Connell, Executive Director of Government Affairs at the National Safety Council said, "CDC activity in this area is severely disproportionate to the scale of human suffering and the expense draining our healthcare system. These added monies would fund meaningful research, community programs, public education, professional education and policy analysis. The benefits of adding these funds to CDC's budget would be enormous, vastly improving the quality of life for seniors and greatly reducing healthcare costs related to falls and related disabilities."

The Falls Free Coalition Advocacy Work Group has achieved some success in drawing attention to the need for elder falls prevention. Earlier today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved H.R. 3701, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ralph Hall (R-TX). On August 1, 2007, the Senate passed S. 845, the Safety of Seniors (SOS) Act of 2007, introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and co-sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Herb Kohl (D-WI). These bills would authorize increased federal activity related to falls prevention for older Americans.

"If we are to make a meaningful difference for older adults, we must communicate to Congress and the White House that more resources are needed to adopt programs that are working," said Patricia Adkins, Chief Operating Officer of the Home Safety Council. "Trying to solve a $19 billion problem with a $1 million budget just won't work. Our older Americans deserve better."

The Falls Free Coalition Advocacy Work Group, a broad-based coalition of nonprofit organizations led by the National Council on Aging, the National Safety Council, the Home Safety Council, AARP, the American Occupational Therapy Association, and the American Physical Therapy Association, is dedicated to improving the safety and health of older adults. Additional organizations supporting the coalition include:
  • Alliance for Retired Americans
  • Alzheimer's Foundation of America
  • American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
  • American Geriatrics Society
  • American Society on Aging
  • Association for Gerontology and Human Development in Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Easter Seals
  • National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
  • National Association for Continence
  • National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
  • National Association for Hospice and Home Care
  • National Association of County and City Health Officials
  • National Association of Hearing Officials
  • National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers
  • National Association of Social Workers
  • National Association of State Units on Aging
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • National Osteoporosis Foundation
  • NCCNHR: The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
  • Rebuilding Together
  • Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research (SAVIR)
  • Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)
  • State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association (STIPDA)
SOURCE: Falls Free Coalition Advocacy Work Group