ADA Supports Congress

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Editor’s Note: Please be advised that Diabetes Self-Management is not affiliated with the American Diabetes Association and does not have an official position on the health-care reform bill.

In health-related news of the past week, one story was bigger than any other: The US House of Representatives passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act. This health insurance reform bill would increase regulation of the industry, provide subsidies to people deemed unable to afford health insurance, and create a public insurance option available to certain individuals not covered by employer-provided private insurance. (The bill must still be passed by the US Senate and signed by President Obama before it can become law.)

For people with diabetes, the position of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) on the bill may carry special importance. The organization issued a press release two days before the bill’s passage in which it announced its support and praised some specific aspects of the bill. These include regulations preventing insurance companies from imposing annual or lifetime caps on benefits and preventing discrimination based on preexisting medical conditions, as well as the creation of a Health and Wellness Fund and support of workplace wellness programs.

This statement of support should come as no surprise to those following the ADA’s rhetoric on health insurance reform over the last several months. The organization has devoted a special section of its Web site to the issue, the main feature of which is a petition demanding health care reform for everyone affected by diabetes. The section includes some sobering numbers: People with diabetes have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than they would have in the absence of diabetes, for an average extra tab of $6,649 per year. One out of five dollars spent on health care treats someone with diabetes, and the death rate due to diabetes has increased by 45% since 1987. This background may help explain the ADA’s criticism, expressed in its endorsement of the health care bill, that too much money and energy is currently devoted to treating complications of diabetes rather than preventing them or reducing the incidence of diabetes in the first place.

What do you think — do you personally feel that the current health care system is in need of serious changes? Do you trust the ADA’s judgment in endorsing the House’s bill on behalf of all people affected by diabetes? Have you experienced difficulty paying for diabetes-related medical expenses, or have you been discriminated against by an insurance company because of your diabetes? Leave a comment below!

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