Peters, Capito Introduce Bill to Help Prevent Diabetes and Reduce Health Care Costs

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs for individuals at risk for diabetes and save long-term care costs for Medicare. The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act would extend Medicare coverage for medical nutrition therapy services to Americans with pre-diabetes and risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes. This legislation is similar to the bill they have previously introduced. Under current law, Medicare will only cover medical nutrition therapy services for individuals already diagnosed with diabetes or renal disease.

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Capito that will expand critical health services to Michiganders and Americans with prediabetes or at risk of developing type-2 diabetes,” said Senator Peters. “By investing in preventative care for diabetes, at-risk individuals can potentially see lower health care costs, live longer and healthier lives and we can achieve significant savings for taxpayers. I hope the Senate will consider and pass this legislation soon.”

“With one of the highest rates of adult diabetes in the nation and a considerable population at risk for the disease, West Virginia is no stranger to its costs and challenges,” Senator Capito said. “With diabetics spending more than twice as much more out-of-pocket on health care, It’s important that Congress take the necessary steps to combat the spread of this disease and contain costs. I’m proud to partner with Senator Peters in introducing this legislation that will help stem the growing rate of diabetes and reduce the Medicare dollars being spent on it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are over 84 million adults with pre-diabetes, including nearly half of all seniors over age 65. Research released by the American Diabetes Association last year found that the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion, including $237 billion in direct medical costs. The American Diabetes Association also reported that people with diagnosed diabetes have annual medical expenditures of $16,752 a year, including $9,601 attributed to diabetes. On average, people with diabetes have medical expenditures that are 2.3 times higher than what costs would be without diabetes. The American Journal of Managed Care reported that one out of every three dollars spent on Medicare is directed toward diabetes-related care.

Nationally, approximately 30 million Americans have diabetes. In Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found that approximately 870,000 Michiganders are currently living with diabetes almost one out of every 10 individuals in the state over the age of 18.

“We are so excited Senator Peters has introduced this bipartisan legislation,” said Claire Hammer, RDN, CDE, Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It will greatly improve health outcomes and reduce medical costs for those with prediabetes with access to earlier intervention. Michigan will benefit greatly from this legislation since approximately 37% of Michigan residents are living with prediabetes and receiving little education. With successful intervention, a diagnosis of diabetes — and consequent complications — can be postponed indefinitely.”

“Prediabetes is a serious health condition that if unaddressed can lead to chronic disease. With access to additional resources, patients at risk of developing diabetes can make lifestyle changes that not only will improve their health but can also save them money,” said Tasha Blackmon, CEO, Cherry Health. “Cherry Health appreciates Senator Peters’ continued efforts to address diabetes and improve our health care system.”

“The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act makes sense fiscally and for the 25 million seniors who are at high risk for developing diabetes,” said Ann Constance MA, RDN, CDE, FAADE, Director of the U.P. Diabetes Outreach Network. “Medical Nutrition Therapy has been shown to help prevent type 2 diabetes and save money. Health care costs increase an average of $9,600 per year when someone develops diabetes. Even if we can help ¼ of our at-risk seniors remain diabetes free, that means a higher quality of life for them and a potential savings of  $60 billion per year in health care costs! Thanks to Senators Peters and Capito for introducing this important legislation!”

“Approximately 84 million Americans have prediabetes, putting them at elevated risk for developing type 2 diabetes,” said LaShawn McIver MD, senior vice president, government affairs and advocacy, American Diabetes Association. “The American Diabetes Association supports the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act, which would provide access for medical nutrition therapy to seniors with prediabetes, helping them lower their risk for type 2 diabetes and its dangerous complications.”

“The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, commends U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Shelley Moore Capito for reintroducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act in the Senate,” said Terri J. Raymond, President, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “This important legislation would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive coverage of medical nutrition therapy for prediabetes, helping millions of Americans receive the services they need and reducing the massive number of people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes each year.”

“Medical nutrition therapy is a valuable service for the millions of people with diabetes but it also has the potential to provide tremendous benefits to the 84 million with prediabetes,” said Karin Gillespie, co-Chair, Diabetes Advocacy Alliance. “The Diabetes Advocacy Alliance has long supported the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act and we commend Senators Peters and Capito for their leadership on this issue in the Senate.”

“Approximately 1 in 3 African Americans have prediabetes and they are 77% more likely to develop diabetes than non-Hispanic Whites,” said Alison Brown, PhD, Chair, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition. “There is overwhelming scientific evidence that MNT, individualized to address medical, social, economic, and cultural needs, will improve patients’ outcomes by delaying or preventing the onset of diabetes, thus reducing the health burden and economic costs to the individual and society. NOBIDAN wholeheartedly supports this bill to expand MNT coverage in Medicare to include prediabetes. Our country's economic viability and health depend on it.”

“The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act is critical legislation that can help prevent Type 2 diabetes in the rapidly growing Asian American population, approximately 20% of whom have diabetes and an additional 32% of whom have prediabetes,” said Aimee Reuhs, MS, MPH, RD, Chair, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders subgroup. “Coverage of medical nutrition therapy for prediabetes would be most important for the Asian American subgroups of Pacific Islanders, South Asians and Filipinos who have notably higher rates of diabetes and prediabetes.”

Peters is working to reduce health care costs for families in Michigan and across the country. Earlier this month, Peters announced a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee investigation into the rising costs of prescription drugs and the short supply of critical medications affecting hospitals and patients throughout the country. In July, Peters-led provisions to lower health care costs for seniors advanced in the Senate. This past January, Peters helped introduce legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices on behalf of over 2 million Michiganders eligible for enrollment in Medicare Part D. Last Congress, Peters urged the Trump Administration to implement a rule holding drug companies accountable for overcharging for prescription drugs.