Obama Administration Proposes Expansion of Medicare to Cover Diabetes Prevention Programs
President Obama made widespread changes to healthcare when he passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The act, informally known as “Obamacare,” recently turned six years old, and the president is celebrating the occasion by helping to fund preventative programs for those at risk for developing diabetes.
According to The New York Times, Obama’s administration has proposed an expansion of Medicare that would cover the costs of diabetes prevention programs for the millions of people who are in danger of developing the disease.
The proposed plan would allow people at risk of Type 2 diabetes to participate in “lifestyle change programs” under the guidance of trained counselors. The counselors would create customized meal plans and exercise regimens for those with “prediabetes,” a condition in which blood sugar is rapidly approaching dangerous levels.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, has spearheaded the proposal through her work with the Y.M.C.A. In 2012, the National Council of Y.M.C.A.s received a $12 million federal grant to test the effectiveness of diabetes prevention programs in eight states.
After the program was properly evaluated, Burwell said that “this program has been shown to reduce health care costs and help prevent diabetes.” In fact, federal officials claim that Medicare saved approximately $2,650 for each person that was enrolled in the program over 15 months.
Preventative diabetes initiatives have been a major talking point among U.S. health officials for quite some time, and for good reason. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the U.S. spends about $245 million every year to care for people with diabetes, and recent projections have determined that one in three adults will have diabetes by 2050 if nothing changes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that 86 million U.S. adults are prediabetic, which has increased the urgency to fund preventative programs through Medicare. Since Obamacare was passed, the federal government can now fund these types of programs without approval from Congress, making them more feasible than ever before.
According to Associations Now, several non-profit organizations have also made a push to expand and enhance diabetes care in the U.S. The American Medical Group Association (AMGA) recently announced its Diabetes: Together 2 program, a collaboration of local health systems and industry partners to improve Type 2 diabetes care for one million patients by 2019.
While both of these programs are quite promising, there is still much work to be done before they can help people get healthier. Obama’s administration has not yet said how it would pay for diabetes prevention services, though many assume that Medicare would directly reimburse health providers that render the treatment.
America’s diabetes problem is far from over, but big-time decision makers are starting to approve funding that could change millions of lives around the country in the near future.
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