WASHINGTON, D.C. – During National Diabetes Month, U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs for individuals at risk for diabetes, while saving 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. Under current law, Medicare will only cover medical nutrition therapy services for individuals already diagnosed with diabetes or renal disease.
“In West Virginia, we understand the costs and challenges associated with diabetes, and continue to battle with one of the highest adult rates of the disease in the nation. It is essential we focus on how we can inhibit more West Virginians and Americans from developing type-2 diabetes and strengthen our prevention efforts. I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation that would expand services for individuals with pre-diabetes and risk factors, and increase our ability to prevent West Virginians from struggling with this disease in the first place,” Senator Capito said.
“Expanding access to this type of health care will provide more Americans with the opportunity live longer, healthier lives, and without breaking the bank,” Senator Peters said. “It’s also a commonsense way to help lower Medicare costs for all taxpayers in the long-run, and I’ll keep fighting to get it passed and signed into law.”
“As a state with a high rate of diabetes, the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics appreciates and supports Senator Capito’s efforts to reintroduce this legislation,” Rebecca Dattola, MS, RD, LD, Public Policy Coordinator of the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said. “Passage of this bill would allow West Virginians access to medical nutrition therapy that could contribute to decreased rates of diabetes in the state and help to improve health outcomes for many individuals."
According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 223,338 people in West Virginia, or 15.7% of the adult population, have diagnosed diabetes. Additionally, and estimated 45,000 people in West Virginia have diabetes but don’t know it, greatly increasing their health risk. There are 502,000 people in West Virginia, 34.8% of the adult population, who have prediabetes with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Every year an estimated 10,473 people in West Virginia are diagnosed with diabetes.
Diabetes is the most expensive chronic health condition in the country, with approximately one in every four Medicare dollars spent on diabetes-related care. Research released by the American Diabetes Association found that the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was almost $413 billion, including more than $306 billion in direct medical costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 37 million Americans have diabetes and approximately 96 million adults have prediabetes. Senator Capito most recently introduced this legislation in 2021.
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