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Public Statements

Diabetes Prevention & Treatment Act of 2003

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, it is a privilege to be a sponsor with Senator Cochran of S. 1666, the Diabetes Prevention & Treatment Act of 2003.

Today, our health care system spends 1 out of every 4 Medicare dollars on diabetes. Almost 200,000 Americans die because of diabetes each year, and almost one-third of Americans alive today are not aware that they have the disease.

The tragedy is that with the simple preventive and treatment measures available today, we can dramatically improve the likelihood that patients will never develop type 2 diabetes, and we can give good care to those who have type 1 diabetes.
With only 30 minutes of walking a day and a healthy diet, people can reduce their chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

Despite these innovations far too many citizens do not realize they are at risk for diabetes or that they may already have the disease. Even more shocking is the disproportionate manner in which diabetes affects children and communities of color.
Our bipartisan legislation is intended to see that as many citizens as possible receive the education, treatment, and care they need at the earliest and most treatable stages of the disease.

The Diabetes Prevention and Treatment Act will apply proven methods of prevention and control throughout the country. Its success will produce major improvements in health, and major reductions in diabetes-related costs.

The bill authorizes quality improvement grants for diabetes. It supports the widespread application of best practices in diabetes prevention and control. It also authorizes further education initiatives and outreach strategies, including public awareness campaigns, public service announcements, and community partnership workshops.

In addition, the bill strengthens the ability of the Centers for Disease Control to support State programs, with the goal of
establishing a comprehensive, fully funded program in every State. It strengthens the ability of the National Institutes of Health to enhance the role of federally funded centers for diabetes research and training. It authorizes additional initiatives to identify the genetic basis of diabetes and its complications. It expands research on diabetes in historically underserved and minority populations.

The bill will help to reduce diabetes in children and in communities of color, where it disproportionately affects American Indians, Latinos, and African Americans. In the American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, type 2 diabetes has rates 8 to 10 times higher than among whites. African American adults have a 60 percent higher rate, and Latinos have a 90 percent higher rate of type 2 diabetes than whites.

People of color also have unacceptably high death rates from diabetes. African Americans and Latinos die twice as often from the disease as whites, and American Indians and Alaskan Natives die three to four times as often. The bill provides the CDC and NIH with new resources to discover why this epidemic is disproportionately affecting communities of color.

The epidemic level of type 2 diabetes among children is also extremely disturbing. Ten years ago type 2 diabetes was unheard of in the pediatric community. Today, apparently because of poor nutrition and more sedentary behavior, children are developing a disease that 10 years ago usually only affected adults 45 years of age or older. The bill's provisions on children expand and intensify research on this crisis, and add long-term epidemiological surveillance for type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the establishment of regional clinical research centers.

Saving lives will save costs too. Providing better testing, prevention, and treatment for diabetes will save billions of dollars a year in the years ahead. By 2008, we could save $5.7 billion on costs of end-stage renal disease alone.

Many leaders from the diabetes community have worked closely with us on this legislation this year. I commend them for their leadership and I look forward to early action by Congress to approve this bipartisan legislation.

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