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Diabetes Prevention Funding

Quinn Phillips

December 29, 2009

The big health-care news of the last week is, of course, the US Senate’s passage of a health-care reform bill. But you might not have heard of a provision added to the bill shortly before its passage that could, in time, significantly reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes in the United States.

This provision would establish a National Diabetes Prevention Program, which would be administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to an article at Minnesota Public Radio NewsQ, the idea for this program comes from a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which evaluated an educational program for people considered to be at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. That study has already been used as the basis of a 16-week community-based pilot program. According to Dr. Richard Bergenstal, president-elect of the American Diabetes Association, the program fills an educational gap that is lacking in both Medicare and most private insurance plans. It costs around $300 per person to administer.

The program was originally proposed as a stand-alone bill called the Diabetes Prevention Act. However, in an effort to get it passed quickly, it was added at the request of Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, as an amendment to the health-reform bill adopted last week by the Senate. According to the text of the provision, the CDC would establish a system of grants for community-based prevention programs and determine who is eligible for the grants. The CDC would also train “lifestyle intervention instructors” and evaluate the success of the community programs. No specific amount of money is authorized in the provision; instead, the CDC could spend “such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014.” To read the provision, you can search for “diabetes prevention” within the text of the amendment package added to the Senate’s health-care reform bill.

Do you think there is a need to establish local diabetes prevention programs on a large scale? Would you, or someone you know, be interested in enrolling in such a program? Is it a good idea for the CDC to create these programs, or can you think of a better way for them to be developed? Should this provision have been added to the larger health-care reform bill, or should it have been introduced on its own? Leave a comment below!

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