Preventive measures needed to stem coming health crisis, group says
The group recently called on the Obama administration to address the critical link between the health, safety and productivity of America's workers and the long-term stability of its health care system and economy. According to ACOEM President Robert R. Orford, the nation's policymakers must put a greater emphasis on ensuring the health of the workforce in order to meet the twin challenges of an aging population and the rise of chronic disease in the United States.
"The transition of 80 million baby boomers into retirement age and a documented increase in chronic disease represent the ?silver tsunami' that will seriously impact the nation's ability to remain productive and competitive in the global economy," Orford said.
The group urged the administration to focus on preventive health measures aimed at workers which could range from screening and early detection programs to health education, nutritional support and immunizations.
According to Orford, ACOEM's workforce-centered health reform plan is built on four principles:
1. Investing in preventive health programs for workers.
2. Creating links between the workplace, homes and communities to reinforce good health.
3. Providing financial incentives to promote preventive health behaviors among workers.
4. Taking steps to ensure that more health professionals are trained in preventive health strategies that can be applied in the workplace.
Orford called on the eventual health and human services secretary-designee to incorporate these principles into the Obama health care agenda.
"A public investment in the health and productivity of working-age populations through a new preventive-based paradigm centered in the workplace is a public health imperative," he said.
In recent years ACOEM has supported a research agenda that has increasingly demonstrated the link between health and productivity in the workforce. The group launched the Health and Productivity Management Center to help employers develop workforce health strategies and recently hosted its first Workforce Health and Productivity Summit. National workforce health experts participating in the summit released a set of recommendations on health and productivity that are available on ACOEM's Web site.
February 19, 2009
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