Rep. Susan Davis Introduces Bill to Help Prevent Diabetes in Seniors

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Washington, DC, April 30, 2015 | comments

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent diabetes in seniors and help reduce health care costs. The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act would extend the proven benefits of the national Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) to seniors under Medicare. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-MA) introduced a Senate version.

“Having the Diabetes Prevention Program covered under Medicare is a simple approach to preventing diabetes in seniors and saving lives,” said Davis.  “Avoiding the health complications associated with diabetes will produce real savings in healthcare costs. The Diabetes Prevention Program has a record of reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Further analysis shows that this legislation can also achieve cost savings and help rein in federal spending.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans struggle with diabetes, and even more are at-risk of developing it,” said Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “But for many people, this disease is preventable. Our legislation would extend the proven National Diabetes Prevention Program to millions of seniors in Minnesota and across the country. By extending this important program, we can help seniors stay happier and healthier and, at the same time, save our taxpayers money by reducing the amount we spend treating preventable chronic conditions—it’s win-win.”

The DPP is a community-based approach to educating and encouraging individuals at risk for diabetes on how they can make lifestyle changes. Participants receive training in diet and exercise and how to modify their behavior.  The DPP was created under the Affordable Care Act from bill language Davis first introduced in 2009.

In a clinical trial, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the DPP helps patients with prediabetes reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. For seniors over age 60 the trial was even more effective, reducing risk by 71 percent.

Unfortunately, this successful program is not currently available to most seniors who could benefit. The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act of would extend the benefits of the DPP to Medicare beneficiaries.

Currently, 50 percent of all seniors in the U.S. have prediabetes and are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. It has been estimated that without action, Medicare spending on diabetes will grow to $2 trillion in 2020. 

A cost estimate commissioned by the American Diabetes Association, the YMCA of the USA, and the American Medical Association showed that the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act would reduce federal spending by $1.3 billion.

The study was conducted by Avalere Health to identify federal savings from the bill using methods similar to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Davis’s bill has been endorsed by American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Medical Association, Families USA, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Council on Aging, National Hispanic Council on Aging, National Kidney Foundation, YMCA of the USA, Third Way.

Of the 26 million Americans who have diabetes about 95% of those individuals have type 2 diabetes.  

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