Preventing Diabetes in Seniors
We strongly support legislation providing Medicare coverage for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) to eligible beneficiaries determined to be at high risk for type 2 diabetes. This legislation has the potential to slow or halt the diabetes epidemic which impacts millions of Americans and their families and which cost our nation $245 billion in 2012.
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Half of all Americans age 65 or older have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. An estimated 10.9 million (nearly 30 percent) Americans over age 65 have already been diagnosed with diabetes, a figure that will continue to increase if we do not act to prevent diabetes in this population. Furthermore, one out of every three Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes.
However, we know how to prevent and/or delay type 2 diabetes so these trends to not have to continue.
The National DPP, administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a partnership consisting of government agencies, private insurers and community organizations like the Y-USA. The National DPP is designed to provide evidence-based community programs to prevent type 2 diabetes in individuals at highest risk – specifically, individuals with prediabetes.
The National DPP originated from the successful Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) clinical trial carried out by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. The clinical trial found individuals with prediabetes can reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes by 58 percent with lifestyle changes including improved nutrition, increased physical activity and weight loss of 5-7 percent. The results were even stronger for seniors. Participants over the age of 60 reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes by 71 percent. Further research translating the clinical trial to a community setting showed these results can be replicated in a group for a cost of less than $300 per participant. The National Diabetes Prevention Program is based on this effective low-cost community model.
Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act of 2013
The dramatic success achieved by seniors in the original clinical trial and the overall success of the intervention in the community-based setting warrants coverage of this program for our nation's Medicare population. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to prevent and/or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in seniors at high risk for the disease.
The bipartisan Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act (S. 452/HR 962) is sponsored by Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Representative Susan Davis (D-CA). The legislation would provide the National DPP as a covered benefit for eligible Medicare beneficiaries who are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Providing coverage of the National DPP through the Medicare program can reduce the number of beneficiaries who develop type 2 diabetes and its dangerous and costly complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, blindness, lower-limb amputation and kidney disease. It can also rein in long term healthcare spending by preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes and its complications.
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