Whitfield & DeGette introduce key Medicare diabetes legislation
By Chris Pack

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Tuesday, U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY), co-chairs of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, introduced the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act, and the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act. Both bills provide critical support to Medicare beneficiaries who are diabetic or prediabetic.

“Providing coverage to beneficiaries seeking care for diabetes can have a lasting impact on the health of our seniors, while significantly reducing long term costs,” said DeGette. “Seniors with diabetes should have greater access to diabetes self-management training (DSMT) provided by certified diabetes educators (CDE), and Medicare beneficiaries who are prediabetic should have access to the nutritional counseling of registered dietitians. Together, these key pieces of legislation help to fill the void that exists for so many Medicare beneficiaries confronting the challenges of diabetes or prediabetes.”

“The Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act and the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act are common sense bills that will improve the lives of our seniors while reducing health care costs,” stated Whitfield. “A recent study by the American Diabetes Association put the total costs of diagnosed diabetes at $245 billion in 2012. This number is proof that we must do more to provide Medicare beneficiaries with the resources they need to manage and prevent diabetes.“

 “The American Association of Diabetes Educators is pleased that the Diabetes Caucus has introduced the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act which will significantly help reduce the devastating economic and social costs of unmanaged diabetes and which will save the Medicare program approximately $2 billion over the next decade,” said Tami Ross, president, American Association of Diabetes Educators.

“We strongly support the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act, which would allow Medicare to reimburse registered dietitians or other qualified nutrition professionals to provide medical nutrition therapy to patients at risk of diabetes or with pre-diabetes, in addition to patients with diabetes and renal disease,” said Ethan A. Bergman, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Congress authorized DSMT as a Medicare benefit in 1997, with the goals of providing a more comprehensive level of support to educate beneficiaries about diabetes and self management techniques, reducing the known risks and complications of diabetes, and improving the overall health outcomes. Under the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act, a CDE would be a covered provider of Medicare DSMT services and work to increase education and outreach to primary care physicians about the importance of DSMT for their patients with diabetes.

The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act is designed to help beneficiaries diagnosed with pre-diabetes avoid becoming diabetic by providing access to the best possible nutritional advice about how to handle their condition. Under current law, Medicare pays for medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by a registered dietitian for beneficiaries with diabetes and renal diseases. Medicare also currently pays for the screening of diabetes in the Welcome to Medicare Physical. However, Medicare does not currently cover MNT for beneficiaries diagnosed as having pre-diabetes, and this legislation would fill that hole in beneficiaries’ care.

Copyright © The Logan Journal