U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, recently introduced the bipartisan Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act aimed at expanding access to care for seniors with diabetes. Senators Mark Begich (D- MT), Kay Hagen (D-NC), Al Franken (D-MN) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are cosponsors of the legislation.
"Diabetes is taking an expensive toll on our country, but with education and access to care, people with diabetes can manage this chronic disease, and in turn, save our health care system money," Shaheen said. "For diabetics, having access to a full array of services and providers to help manage this disease is essential, and the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act is an important step forward."
"Certified Diabetes Educators play a critical role in helping Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes manage their disease and prevent complications. The Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act would allow them to be reimbursed by Medicare for the important work that they do which will also increase access to quality care for individuals with diabetes," said Senator Collins.
With nearly 26 million American afflicted with diabetes and rising prevalence, the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act provides critical tools to help seniors with diabetes get the care they need.
The Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act would allow a Certified Diabetes Educator to be reimbursed by Medicare under Diabetes Self-Management Training (DSMT), which Congress authorized in 1997. Certified Diabetes Educators are state-licensed or registered practitioners who specialize in teaching people with diabetes how to stay healthy and play an import role in helping Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes manage the disease and prevent complications. The bill also works to increase education and outreach to primary care physicians about the importance of DSMT for their patients with diabetes.
Diabetes is one of the most costly diseases to the health system, costing the American health care system billions of dollars annually. According to the Center for Disease Control, the estimated annual cost of diabetes is $174 billion. Overall, one in every ten health care dollars and one in every three Medicare dollars is spent on patients with the disease.
The bill is the most recent diabetes-related piece of legislation introduced by the Senate Diabetes Caucus chairs who have been strong advocates for families and individuals struggling with diabetes. Earlier this year, Shaheen and Collins introduced new legislation to establish a commission of health care experts to advance diabetes care and prevention. Last week, Shaheen and Collins re-introduced legislation to enhance research on gestational diabetes and have been leaders in supporting the Special Diabetes Program and the artificial pancreas, a device that could improve the lives of millions of Americans living with diabetes.