Peters Introduces the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act

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

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan, fiscally-responsible legislation to provide Americans with prediabetes, or those at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, with medical nutrition therapy services,” said Senator Peters. “These critical wellness services will improve beneficiaries’ nutrition and physical activity, while reducing health care costs and Medicare spending.”

“West Virginia is no stranger to the costs and challenges associated with diabetes. We are the state with the highest rate of adult diabetes and are among the top 10 states for pre-diabetes. With the cost of medical coverage growing nearly twice as fast for diabetes patients than for all other insured people, it is important to take steps to combat the spread of this disease and contain costs. By enabling Medicare to cover nutritional therapy services for people with pre-diabetes, or those at risk of developing type-2 diabetes, 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 this disease,” said Senator Capito.

“Preventing or delaying the onset of diabetes is key to improving quality of life for patients,”said Senator Kirk. “Access to nutrition therapy services will help millions of Illinois residents manage their disease and reduce health care spending overall."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 30 million Americans or 9.3% of the population have diabetes. In addition, the CDC estimates approximately 86 million American adults – about 30 percent of the population – have pre-diabetes. 

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

Approximately one in every three Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes – a number that has increased considerably in previous years and could continue to increase without action. In 2012, the U.S. spent $322 billion on prediabetes and diabetes – an increase of 48 percent from 2007.The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has also demonstrated that $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 primary care to prevent the onset of diabetes. There is significant evidence that medical nutrition therapy can prevent the onset of diabetes for at-risk individuals. Medical nutrition therapy could include 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 enjoys broad support from major health care groups, including Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Association of Diabetes Educators, American Diabetes Association, Community Servings, Diabetes Hands Foundation, Endocrine Society, Food for Thought, Healthcare Leadership Council, Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), Moveable Feast, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP), Novo Nordisk Inc., Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and World Fit for Kids

“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, President & CEO of God's Love We Deliver and Convener of the Food Is Medicine Coalition. “FIMC is a nationwide coalition of medically tailored food and nutrition services providers, affiliates and their supporters across the country that provide food and nutrition services to people living with critical and chronic illnesses, including renal failure and diabetes.  By allowing Medicare to cover medical nutrition therapy for people with prediabetes, or risk factors for diabetes, many of our organizations would be able to expand the reach of their services to help at-risk older adults.”

“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 as a companion bill to H.R. 1686,” 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.”

“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 Karin Gillespie, 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.”

“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.”

“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 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.”

“The Healthcare Leadership Council, representing leaders from all sectors of healthcare, applauds Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) for their introduction of the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act,” said Mary R. Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council. “Providing improved access to evidence-based interventions that will prevent diabetes allows us to focus resources on maintaining good health and well-being rather than treating often-devastating disease symptoms.  Legislation like this, which aggressively attacks the current escalation in chronic illness, is good for patients and for Medicare’s long-term sustainability.”

“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 Tina Miller, MS RDN, President of the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “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 2 million adults in Michigan with prediabetes to prevent the onset of diabetes.”

“Medical Nutrition Therapy is a proven method of promoting lifestyle change and improving health outcomes,” said Annie House, 2016 Chair of the Michigan Coordinating Body of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “Expanding coverage for those with prediabetes makes financial sense. Don’t let this opportunity slip by.”