New National and State Mandates
Approximately 17 million Americans have diabetes today, and at least 16 million more have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. As the sixth leading cause of death by disease, it claims the lives of more than 193,000 Americans each year and costs the United States about $100 billion annually. This staggering epidemic has been increasing by more than 20% every year, but now is being met head-on by government organizations on national and state levels.
In the fall of 2002, The Department of Health and Human Services launched its first ever national diabetes prevention campaign. "Small Steps, Big Rewards" emphasizes modest lifestyle changes and includes a provision to create educational tools for health care providers. To help America's seniors, the Health Care Financing Administration announced expanded Medicare coverage enabling beneficiaries with diabetes to get training from qualified providers in self-managing their disease. "Teaching Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes about managing their disease will allow them to live longer and lead more productive lives," the Acting Deputy HCFA Administrator has said. "The expanded coverage also will save taxpayers money."
In addition to the national initiatives, 46 states have enacted new legislation mandating insurer reimbursement of providers' supply and education programs. In each, the benefits to be realized through empowering diabetic patients are clear. Study after study has shown that a small investment in prevention can save many times as much in providing future medical care. By ensuring patients have access to diabetes education, states are minimizing the long-term healthcare costs.