United States healthcare spending is among the highest and, yet, least effective of all industrialized nations. The United States spends 16.2 percent of the gross domestic product on health care, however, consistently ranks in the bottom for health outcomes. Most of the health budget is spent treating chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, or worse yet, managing the symptoms of those diseases, often without ever addressing the root causes. These fatal diseases frequently can be controlled or prevented altogether through lifestyle choices such as weight management, healthy diet, and regular physical activity. What is less commonly acknowledged are the spiritual prevention measures we can take to achieve wellness, such as stress-reduction, prayer and meditation, and forgiveness. Our spiritual worldview can have enormous consequences on our physical health.
African Americans suffer from a disproportionate percentage of chronic diseases when compared to the rest of the American population. Yet, dozens of studies have revealed the positive impact the African-American church as an institution has often had on the length and quality of life for regular attendees. Researchers have found that regular religious attendance extends lifespan by five to seven years for the overall American population and up to 14 years for African-American men.
NBCSL’s health dialogue will also focus on the importance of collaboration with local organizations and the faith community in educating and supporting their members in making positive choices as well as the legislative impact NBCSL members can have by shaping comprehensive, practical state action plans.
“As legislators, we must keep our eyes on the bottom line when it comes to controlling health care spending; however, as members of the human family, we grieve over the needless suffering and deaths from diseases that can be prevented,” said “NBCSL President Barbara W. Ballard, Kansas State Representative. “I am encouraged we are bringing to the forefront the foundation necessary to lead community-based chronic disease prevention efforts — the faith community,” continued Ballard.
For the past 18 years, the conference has been supported through a generous grant from Eli Lilly and Company.