Bethany Hall-Long Proposes 4-Point Plan on Fighting Health Inequalities, Healthy Aging, Battling Addiction and Promoting Healthy Living

Introduction

In order to achieve a stronger, healthier Delaware, we must tackle some of the toughest health challenges facing our state. As a public health nurse with over 30 years of experience, Bethany Hall-Long, PhD, RNC, FAAN has been at the forefront of some of our most pressing healthcare challenges and has the leadership experience, proven results, and focused solutions to make Delaware a stronger and healthier place. The four-point plan outlined below details how Bethany will fight for all of us by:

During her time in the legislature, Bethany has sponsored over 1000 pieces of legislation, many of them impacting the health and wellness of our most vulnerable, our seniors, children, and those battling addiction. Long before serving in the legislature, Bethany provided care and conducted research on chronic disease, disaster preparedness DE Medical Reserve Corps (over 600 volunteers who respond to emergencies statewide). This plan will dramatically reduce health care costs in Delaware, and will ensure our friends, families, and neighbors live longer, happier, and more productive lives.

Fighting Health Inequities – Deploying Community Health Workers to our most underserved areas to improve health outcomes and decrease healthcare costs.

Individuals and families living in our most vulnerable neighborhoods face inequities in health care. Persons living in zip codes 19801, 19802 and 19805 are most impacted resulting in higher morbidity and chronic disease rates.

As a nurse, health care researcher, and Chair of the Health and Social Services Committee in the Senate, Senator Hall-Long knows how inequalities in our health system have disproportionately affected Delawarean’s living in our most vulnerable areas, specifically zip codes- 19801, 19802, and 19805. During her career, Bethany has led research teams and been at the door steps of our most vulnerable citizens as a public health nurse & recognizes that change comes from within and families and persons need who need to be empowered. All children should be given the same opportunities. When they do not receive access to basic healthcare, which severely impacts their health, quality of life and ultimately how long they will live. According to data from Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH), the African-American infant mortality rate in Delaware was 2.8 times higher than white infants. In addition, the number of children from birth to 5 years of age living in poverty rose from 12,481(17 percent) in 2008-2010 to 16,417 (24.7 percent) in 2012-2014. Unfortunately, living in poverty has a direct link to health outcomes such as obesity, asthma and chronic disease.

“The zip code where someone lives or the color of their skin should not be a predicator of life expectancy, whether they will die of a chronic disease or whether their newborn baby is less likely to survive. “said Bethany Hall-Long

Inequities also exist with our aging population living on fixed incomes who have little to no benefits, and limited access to healthcare. They should not be confronted with the painful choice between medical care and food. Additionally, many health inequities also frequently exist for those suffering with substance abuse disorders and mental illness due to a fractured and sometimes broken pipeline from detox to treatment to aftercare. “In Delaware, someone dies from addiction every other day. This is wrong and needs to change through better treatment options determined by a physician not an insurer and longer term aftercare treatment programs.

“We can address health inequities and make a real difference for people. As Lt. Governor, I will work with community health centers across the state, health care providers along with state health agencies to deploy community health workers in our states most vulnerable areas…zip codes 19801, 19802 and 19805. Community health workers will serve as health connectors, familiar with underserved areas, who will educate and connect our citizens with key healthcare services and promote health and wellness in our communities. Oftentimes, health inequalities most affect those who feel they are not able to, or do not know how to utilize the health care system. This often leads to the progression of chronic disease, which causes healthcare costs to go up and emergency room wait times to increase. “said Bethany Hall-Long. Bethany’s plan seeks to eliminate ineffective programs and re-allocate funding to incentivize health providers with grant funding that will include bonuses for positively impacting health outcomes in our lowest income communities.

“It is time that we look to creating community integrated care as other states have done with much success. while in some cases, getting a 250% return on investment. We can do that here in Delaware”.

Community health workers will serve as a liaison between underserved communities and our system to ensure that Delawareans from birth to our seniors get the healthcare they need and deserve. Your age, income or address should not determine your health. Everyone, regardless of age, income, or address should have the same opportunity to live a stronger, healthier life, and work together for a stronger, healthier Delaware.

Healthy Aging- Chronic Disease Prevention- Improving senior healthcare services by improving Medicaid and fighting chronic disease in our aging population.

“Preventing chronic diseases before they happen is a doable goal for a stronger, healthier Delaware” said Senator Bethany Hall-Long, candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

For many Delawareans, especially our aging population and those with disabilities, the threat of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are much more common and all too real. Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death for Delawareans, and a major cause for ballooning health costs. Far too many Delaware families are losing the people closest to them, and having to watch them suffer. We can work to prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers by incentivizing health providers who focus prevention and early intervention.

As Delaware becomes more and more attractive as a retirement state and our over 65 year old population continues to grow, the cost for management of chronic diseases in Delaware is billions of dollars. Someone with diabetes incurs health costs 2.5 times higher than those who do not. And for every $1 invested $7 dollars is saved. “The healthcare system must work for people not against them.” Said Hall-Long.

Seniors need access to preventative healthcare and should not have to pay out of pocket for it. Health costs would be reduced if health providers were incentivized to prevent the development of chronic diseases in their patients. As a state we can and must do better for our citizens to connect them to healthcare provider who will focus on health aging. Our healthcare system focuses on treatment. Bethany will work to revamp our state’s health funding allocation to protect senior healthcare costs and focus on prevention instead of management.

“As a nurse, I have spent over 30 years treating people with chronic diseases, and researching ways to prevent them. I have cared for the elderly, including my own who father, who lost his battle with cancer just last year. I don’t want others to experience the same pain my family went through.”

Delaware has made tremendous progress over the last decade with lowering cancer rates and reducing the risk of chronic disease but it is simply not enough. Delaware still ranks among the highest of states with people suffering from chronic disease.

To combat chronic disease and protect our seniors from serious health issues, Senator Hall-Long will launch chronic disease prevention programs by forming partnerships between public, private and, non-profit health agencies. These programs will promote health and wellness in worksites, healthcare agencies, and community based settings, and educate Delawareans on ways to prevent chronic disease. Health care agencies will be able to apply for grant funding, which will incentivize them to help Delaware decrease its chronic disease numbers. The numbers are clear. For every dollar invested, 7 dollars is saved. The return on investment will ultimately save Delaware millions of dollars a year in health care costs and allow our friends and family members to live happier, more productive lives. This is an investment Delaware must make. “it is imperative that we bring healthcare to the doorstep of our seniors and our most vulnerable”.

In Delaware, we have access to first-class health care provider agencies and non-profit organizations up and down the state. However, many of them are operating in silo’s and not working together to address chronic disease and health care for our aging population. Bethany Hall-Long wants to make sure healthcare providers and state agencies take a more coordinated approach to lowering chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Bethany will work to revamp our reimbursement so that Medicaid to pay for early detection and prevention and through health and nutrition education. Specifically, she will find out where we can reallocate Medicaid funding to pay for encourage providers to focus on prevention, not management of diseases.

For our seniors that are already suffering from chronic disease, Bethany will work with Medicaid as well as health providers across the state to ensure our seniors get the health care they need, and receive necessary access to prescription medication at affordable costs. As a nurse and senator, Senator Hall-Long knows how to work with state agencies and insurers to expand health care access for those most in need. Nobody should be without strong, affordable healthcare, and Bethany will ensure that everyone who needs coverage, has it.

As Delaware experiences an increasing aging population, we must act now and do more to prevent chronic diseases from affecting our loved ones. We must ensure that our increasing aging population can age gracefully with dignity. Together, we can prevent chronic disease from causing havoc on our health care costs, and our aging population. Delaware is stronger, and healthier because of our seniors, and Bethany will continue to fight for them.

Battling Addiction and Mental Illness- With so many of our loved ones dying each day of a drug overdose, Bethany will lower overdose rates, and expand mental health and addiction services for Delawareans from New Castle County to Sussex.

In Delaware, someone dies every other day of a drug overdose, and over 82% of our prisoners have a diagnosed mental illness or substance use disorder. Delaware, like many states, is battling an epidemic. For years, Senator Hall-Long has been on the forefront of battling addiction in Delaware. Bethany knows you can’t arrest your way out of this problem. It has to be solved by prevention and access to quality treatment. As a result, Bethany has sponsored numerous pieces of legislation that expand access to services and save lives in Delaware. Just this past year, Bethany co-chaired a taskforce that examined ways to fill treatment gaps in Delaware’s behavioral health system, and sponsored a series of legislation including creating a mortality taskforce, clearing the way for a 90 bed treatment facility in Sussex County. As our next Lt. Governor, Bethany will continue that charge by:

“Addiction is a disease, and treatment does work. I will work with state agencies, community stakeholders, and our next Governor to lower addiction rates, reduce overdose deaths, and expand treatment access for those struggling with mental illness and addiction.”

Healthy Living and Fighting Obesity- With obesity rates increasing and healthcare costs ballooning, Bethany will work with schools and health agencies to lower obesity rates and encourage healthy living among Delawareans.

Currently, our health care system focuses reimbursements on treatment of illness and management of chronic diseases not on education, prevention and early intervention. Individuals and families need support from their health care provider for health living and for prevention. Hall-Long said, “We need to move to a single payer system and to a system that incentivizes doctors to prevent chronic diseases not managing them.”

Central to healthy living is maintaining a healthy weight. Delaware’s obesity rate ranks in the top 15 in the United States, and about one third of our adult population is considered obese while childhood obesity is over 30%”. Senator Bethany Hall-Long is committed to continuing her work to change Delaware’s obesity rate and open the door of possibilities for those who suffer.

Obesity is the precursor for many chronic diseases and is especially prevalent with Delawareans aged 45 to 64 and 10 to 17. A combined 52% of this age population is considered obese. “We must start with comprehensive nutrition education in schools and communities; healthy choices for school lunches and breakfast programs; providing fresh affordable foods in communities that do not have access to grocery stores or farmer’s markets; and opportunities for physical activities and recreation.”

“We know that obesity dramatically impacts people’s lives and has a severe impact on growing health costs in Delaware costing our state over $200 million year. We also know that many of our poorest communities lack necessary access and affordability to healthy foods. There is no single approach to addressing obesity, but prevention, education, and access are the keys to preventing obesity and promoting health lifestyles.” Said Senator Bethany Hall-Long.

As Lt. Governor, Bethany will work with the division of public health and school districts around the state to follow what Delaware has done in our high schools and expand school-based wellness centers to our elementary and middle schools, where students will receive information on nutrition and weight management, the risks of using drugs and alcohol, and receive access to individual, family, and group counseling. Nutrition counselling and support programs will be added to services provided at existing high school wellness centers.

For adults and our aging population, especially those in our poorest communities, Bethany will ensure that community health workers deployed across the state work with communities and community health agencies to educate our citizens about health and wellness and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

While there is much work to do, prevention and education are two of the main keys to bringing obesity rates, and healthcare costs down in Delaware. As Lt. Governor, Bethany Hall-Long will work to make that happen.

Conclusion

Senator Hall-Long knows what it takes to create a stronger, healthier Delaware. It takes all of us, working together, to reduce chronic diseases and protect senior health care, battle addiction, fight health inequalities in our most impoverished areas, and promote healthy lifestyles for children, adults and seniors. Bethany’s 4-point plan will save Delaware millions of dollars, and lead our citizens to healthier, more productive lives.