Even by Washingtonian political standards, testimony for a Senate Finance panel hearing on addressing the crushing cost of chronic disease care opened on a dramatic note this week.
Tuesday morning's first witness knows the costs associated with chronic disease all too well. Stephanie Dempsey, an American Heart Association volunteer who lives in Georgia, has suffered with heart disease since she was 21, the 44-year-old told the senators.
Over the next several months, the committee is expected to examine several possible solutions to the problems posed by chronic disease care, which accounts for 93 percent of all Medicare spending, according to the panel's chairman, Ron Wyden (D-OR). Among the proposals the committee will be assessing is the Better Care, Lower Cost Act, which Wyden and three other lawmakers introduced in January.
"My heart disease is hereditary and has impacted all of the women in my family. My only sister died at the age of 28 from heart disease. My mother, who is 69, underwent quadruple bypass surgery at the age of 48, and my maternal grandmother died at the age of 72 from coronary artery disease."