About the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act

The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act (MDPA) is a new set of national, bipartisan legislation introduced by Democratic Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) along with Republican Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN).

The MDPA (S. 3463) will provide coverage of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) under the Medicare Program. It is fiercely supported by dozens and dozens of organizations, perhaps none as influential as the American Diabetes Association; Board chairman L. Hunter Limbaugh believes that the Act will grant access for senior citizens at high risk for type 2 diabetes to valuable prevention programs.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program

The NDPP is a public-private partnership featuring private insurance firms, employers, community groups, health care organizations and government agencies led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is designed to prevent type 2 diabetes by bringing evidence-based prevention programs to communities and to the people at highest risk of developing the disease. It is based on a diabetes prevention study headed by the National Institutes of Health that showed people can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent merely by "making modest behavior changes, such as improving food choices and increasing physical activity to at least 150 minutes per week," which helped study participants lose as much as seven percent of their body weight.

Participants in a National Diabetes Prevention Program work with a lifestyle coach in a group setting. They receive 16 weekly sessions and six monthly sessions over the course of one year in an effort to learn more about making the kinds of lifestyle choices that can head off type 2 diabetes before it can develop.

The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act

Proponents of the MDPA regard its coverage by Medicare as crucial to the success of the legislation, since reducing the number of type 2 diabetes patients in the country should also reduce the federal expenses that go towards their treatment, as well as the expenses that go towards covering the drastic effects of some cases of diabetes, including blindness, amputations, and even kidney disease.

Estimates suggest the MDPA could save the country $191 billion in Medicare costs over the course of a decade. The estimate is derived from the cost to impliment the National DPP ($500) compared to the annual money spent on a Medicare patient with diabetes ($15,000).

“This bill will combat this illness head on by expanding a proven diabetes prevention program to Medicare," said Sen. Rockefeller in a statement. "It will improve the health of millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities -- and in many cases help them avoid diabetes -- reduce health costs nationwide, and create jobs. This bill is a win-win, and I can’t overstate the importance of it and this program for our families and communities."

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