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May 23rd, 2011
Grijalva Encourages Southern Arizona Applications for Federal Grants to Cut Chronic Diseases, Improve Nutrition, Lower Health Costs

Washington, D.C. – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the availability of more than $100 million in funding for up to 75 Community Transformation Grants, which will be awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later this year. Created by the Affordable Care Act, the grants are aimed at cutting medical costs nationwide by helping communities reduce chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

According to HHS data, approximately seventy percent of U.S. deaths are from chronic diseases, mostly caused by tobacco use, obesity, poor diet, and too little physical activity. Treatment for people with chronic conditions accounts for more than 75 percent of the more than $2 trillion spent on annual medical costs. In 2008, about $147 billion in medical bills were weight-related.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services:

·         16 percent of Arizona adults smoke

·         48 percent do not get the recommended level of physical activity

·         53 percent are overweight or obese

·         72 percent do not consume the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables daily

The grants will focus on reducing tobacco use; active living and healthy eating; prevention and control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol; early identification of mental health needs and access to quality services; and healthy and safe physical environments. Applicants should demonstrate that their programs will have a broad population impact.

“Health isn’t a partisan issue, and we can all agree reducing chronic disease is an important public goal,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva said. “We have an opportunity to take a giant step forward as a community and a nation – if we become healthier and reduce our lifetime medical costs, we’ll feel the benefits for decades. These grants can help start that process, and that’s why I hope to see several Southern Arizona awards this year.”

Successful project models include efforts to improve school nutrition, bring healthier food to corner markets in urban areas, and promote blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. State and local government agencies, tribes and territories, and state and local non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for Community Transformation Grants.

At least 20 percent of grant funds will be directed to rural areas. Applications are due to the CDC in July, with awards expected to be announced near the end of summer. The grants are expected to run for five years, with projects expanding over time as resources permit.

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