Advocacy Accomplishments – 2016 Highlights

Strengthened Our Voice in Washington, DC and State Capitals Across the Country

  • 192,807 Americans joined the ranks of American Diabetes Association Diabetes Advocates, growing our numbers by 65%, an astounding 330% of our recruitment goal for the year.
  • Capitol Hill Advocacy Day (CHAD) brought together dedicated Diabetes Advocates from across the country and Team Tackle professional football players who together held 140 meetings on Capitol Hill lobbying for vital funding for diabetes research and programs. CHAD also featured a Senate press briefing and a White House forum on diabetes featuring Diabetes Advocates, Team Tackle members and senior Administration officials. The event received national news coverage in USA Today, Politico, The Washington Post and ESPN.
  • Advocates held 110 in-district meetings with their members of Congress during the summer and fall congressional recess periods.
  • The Association also raised its public policy voice through testimony for Congressional hearings, leadership on Congressional sign-on letters, petitions signed by over 200,000 Diabetes Advocates, dozens of state level briefings, hearings, advocacy days, summits and caucus meetings, tens of thousands of emails and phone calls to elected officials, and collaborations such as our leadership in the Friends of NIDDK coalition.

Enacted Public Policies to Prevent Diabetes

  • Secured Medicare coverage of the National Diabetes Prevention Program for seniors at risk for diabetes. This major victory – featuring ADA in announcements by the Secretary of Health and Human Services – is scheduled to go into effect nationwide in January of 2018.
  • The Food and Drug Administration released an updated Nutrition Facts label; among improvements is a line disclosing added sugars in packaged foods.
  • The United States Department of Agriculture finalized the Smart Snacks in Schools program, which requires all foods sold in vending machines, a la carte lines, and school stores to meet science-based nutrition standards.
  • Twelve state victories involving prevention including four local measures taxing sugar- sweetened beverages and legislation maintaining high-standards for school physical education programs.
  • Calorie labeling for foods sold in vending machines went into effect.

Advocated to Increase Government Commitment to Stop Diabetes

  • Achieved significant bipartisan support for the Special Diabetes Program with 356 House members and 75 Senators signing a letter to extend the program when it comes up for reauthorization in 2017.
  • Continued to include diabetes among the diseases eligible for the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. Data released from the first year diabetes was explicitly included in the program showed more money went to diabetes research than in the entire prior decade.
  • Congressional appropriators voted to increase funding for diabetes research, although final action has been delayed on the entire 2017 fiscal year budget.

Expanded Success in the Safe at School Camaign

  • Passed Safe at School (SAS) legislation in Idaho, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, bringing the number of states meeting all three tenets of the SAS campaign to 32. Supported successful legislation in Hawaii, Louisiana, Ohio, and Virginia to improve existing SAS laws and fought off attempts to weaken existing laws or regulation in Illinois and Utah.
  • Filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Child, Youth & School Services for its policy prohibiting the administration of insulin and glucagon to children with diabetes.
  • Updated key Safe at School resources including the Association-championed school guide issued by the National Diabetes Education Program and toolkits for school nurses.
  • Trained Advanced School Advocates in 14 communities around the country; 61 more advocates are now providing workshops and support for families of students with diabetes.
  • Reached thousands of parents, health care professionals and other stakeholders on the SAS campaign through a Facebook LIVE chat, webinars, and presentations at professional conferences.

Reached Out to Health Care Community

  • Health care professionals participated in sessions on Advocacy on topics including discrimination and health disparities at the Association’s Postgraduate Course, Scientific Sessions, and Clinical Conference, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators conference.
  • Published an article in Clinical Diabetes highlighting progress made since the Affordable
  • Care Act, and looking at the road ahead for people with diabetes.
  • Added 1,781 new Health Care Professionals to our legal advocacy network in 2016 for growth of 82%.

Focused Advocacy Efforts on Those at High Risk

  • Increasing our efforts to end health disparities, the Association scored 10 important state victories increasing access to fresh and healthy foods in underserved communities, securing funding for programs to reduce health disparities, and supporting the Screen at 23 campaign to promote screening for diabetes in the Asian community.
  • Engaged high risk communities through opportunities including Facebook Live, CNN en Español, USA Today Black History Month, and the launch of Special Diabetes Program for Indians petition.
  • Heightened the sense of urgency to address diabetes disparities through initiating key collaborations with federal agencies, including the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Office of Minority Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Health Resources and Services Administration.

Inspired Advocates to Action

  • Advocates in Action webinars trained over 350 participants on topics including advocacy at Association events, outreach to communities hit hardest by diabetes, ending discrimination, and mobilizing advocates to meet with elected officials.
  • Engaged Diabetes Advocates through Regional Advocacy Trainings reaching advocacy leaders in33 communities.

Fought to Improve Diabetes Care and Coordination

  • Achieved 15 state victories on health insurance issues including expanding Medicaid eligibility and improving coverage for people with diabetes, increasing transparency in health insurance and access to medications, and securing coverage for the National Diabetes Prevention Program in state employee benefit plans.
  • Launched the insulin affordability campaign in mid-November calling on Congress and those in the insulin supply chain to take action to make this life-saving medication affordable. Over 150,000 people signed the petition in the first month and a half of the campaign – and the number continues to grow.
  • Continued successful efforts to improve access to quality health insurance through official comments as well as letters and meetings with Administration officials. Affordable Care Act focus on expanding coverage for low income Americans, consumer protections, and implementation of state marketplaces. Medicare focus on eliminating barriers to using the diabetes self-management training benefit, consumer protections, access to disease management tools including insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and test strips, and primary prevention.
  • Enacted Diabetes Action Plan Legislation, which provides for state coordination on diabetes and development of an action plan, in four more states – part of a record number of 60 state legislative and regulatory victories for the year.

Protected Legal Rights

  • Through a series of nine Diabetes Stops Here blog posts and publication of Diabetes Docket e-newsletter, we educated thousands on the rights of people with diabetes.
  • Created a training curriculum and related materials for use in educating law enforcement personnel about diabetes and how to respond to diabetes emergencies.
  • Key program changes resulted more than doubling the number of people receiving help from an Association Legal Advocate in their fight against discrimination based on diabetes.
  • Supported litigation against the Federal Aviation Administration for its rules regarding medical certification of pilots with diabetes, and filed amicus briefs in cases involving employer wellness programs, disability discrimination in employment and licensing, and special education law.
  • Increased number of professional and trained volunteers in the fight against discrimination by 56% overall, including a 4% increase in attorneys, an 82% increase in health care professionals and a 23% increase in advanced school advocates.
  • Last Reviewed: January 18, 2017
  • Last Edited: January 19, 2017

Articles from Diabetes Forecast® magazine:

Diabetes Forecast