06.07.17

Peters, Capito Reintroduce Bill to Help Prevent Diabetes in Seniors

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

“Investing in preventative care for diabetes will save taxpayer dollars by reducing Medicare costs and help at-risk individuals live longer and healthier lives,” said Senator Peters. “I am proud to reintroduce this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to expand medical nutrition therapy services and help prevent more seniors from developing this chronic and costly condition.”

“With one of the highest rates of adult diabetes in the nation and a considerable pre-diabetes population, West Virginia is no stranger to the costs and challenges associated with this disease,” Senator Capito said. “The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act will help stem the growing rate of diabetes and reduce the one-in-three Medicare dollars being spent on it.”

Nearly one in every three Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes, a number that has increased considerably in recent years and will most likely continue to increase without action. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates approximately 30 million Americans or 9.3% of the population have diabetes and approximately 86 million American adults – about 30% of the population – have pre-diabetes.

In 2014, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services estimated 10.4% of Michigan adults were diagnosed with diabetes (799,350) and 8.2% of Michigan adults reported being told they have prediabetes.

There is significant evidence to suggest that medical nutrition therapy can prevent the onset of diabetes for at-risk individuals. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, $2.5 billion in hospitalization costs related to the treatment of diabetes or complications resulting from diabetes could be saved by providing seniors with appropriate preventive care. Medical nutrition therapy includes an initial nutrition and lifestyle assessment, review of eating habits, one-on-one nutritional counseling and follow-up visits to check on patients’ progress in managing their diet to prevent or manage their condition.

The Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act has broad support from major health care groups, including Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Diabetes Advocacy Alliance, Food is Medicine Coalition, Healthcare Leadership Council, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs, Spectrum Health and the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, commends U.S. Senators Gary Peters (Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) for introducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act in the Senate,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President Lucille Beseler. “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 preventing a massive increase in the number of people with Type 2 diabetes.”

“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 86 million with prediabetes,” said Henry Rodriguez, MD, Co-chair of the Diabetes Advocacy Alliance (DAA). “The DAA 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.”

“The Food is Medicine Coalition (FIMC) applauds Senators Peters and Capito for introducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act in the Senate, as a vital step in preventing diabetes in older adults,” said Karen Pearl, Co-Chair of Food is Medicine Coalition and Executive Director and CEO of God's Love We Deliver. “By allowing Medicare to cover medical nutrition therapy for people with prediabetes, or risk factors for diabetes, our organizations would be able to expand the reach of our services to help at-risk older adults.” 

“It makes good sense for our society and our economy to focus on disease prevention, creating less need for treating disease after devastating symptoms have already occurred,” said Mary R. Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, an alliance of leaders from all sectors of healthcare. “Senators Peters and Capito have developed legislation which will improve access to effective, evidence-based interventions and, in so doing, improve population health and fortify Medicare's long-term sustainability.”

“The National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP) applauds Senators Peters and Capito for introducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act in the Senate,” said Bob Blancato, Executive Director of NANASP. “As the number of older adults continues to increase rapidly, we must invest in proven interventions to prevent diabetes and other chronic diseases.  This critical legislation will strengthen our nation’s efforts to tackle the diabetes epidemic in America, especially among older adults served by Medicare, who are disproportionately impacted by diabetes and prediabetes.” 

“The Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, representing over 3000 members in Michigan, commends U.S. Senators Gary Peters (Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) for introducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act in the Senate,” said President Rubina Haque, PhD, RD. “This important legislation would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive coverage of medical nutrition therapy for prediabetes, instead of having to wait until the onset of diabetes. Medical nutrition therapy is an effective and comprehensive treatment performed by registered dietitian nutritionists for disease management, such as delaying and even preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes. This is critical legislation to provide resources to the estimated 550,000 adults in Michigan with prediabetes.”

“As a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, I support the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act introduced by Senators Peters and Capito,” said Betty Krauss RDN, CDE, Diabetes Educator from Spectrum Health. “Individualized Medical Nutrition Therapy provided by RDN’s has proven results in weight loss and improved blood glucose, which are key outcomes for diabetes prevention programs.  Many seniors have difficulty ambulating and/or have other nutrition-related dietary needs affecting their health which only a RDN is trained to deal with. Therefore it is critical that there are other options for them to help them with their prediabetes. We know that the consequences of poorly controlled diabetes are devastating not only for people with diabetes, but also their families. Something has to be done to prevent this epidemic from eventually overwhelming the health care system and negatively affecting the health and productivity of all Americans. It is imperative to address diabetes using every evidence-based tool at our disposal.”