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Sen. Franken Pushes VA to Adopt Cost-Saving Diabetes Prevention Program for Nation's Veterans

Program Championed by Sen. Franken Significantly Reduces Diabetes Rates, Could Save Millions of Dollars

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

With federal veterans health facilities treating nearly a million veterans each year for diabetes, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) today pressed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to adopt a proven diabetes prevention program that would not only significantly reduce the onset of the costly disease, but ultimately save taxpayers millions of dollars each year in veterans health care costs.

Sen. Franken wrote to Veterans Secretary Eric Shinseki urging the VA to adopt the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP).  Sen. Franken's letter to Secretary Shinseki can be read here.

Sen. Franken, whose Diabetes Prevention Act was included in last year's health care reform law, said he first raised the possibility of VA involvement in the the NDPP with Secretary Shinseki last month when he hosted him at a meeting in Minnesota.  
"Diabetes already affects 24 million Americans and its price tag is $174 billion each year.  Programs like the National Diabetes Prevention Program have the potential to save a lot of money and keep people healthier and happier by preventing the debilitating effects of type 2 diabetes," said Sen. Franken.  "I'm pushing VA to adopt this program because it will preserve the quality of life for our veterans who are at risk of developing this disease  and could save the government millions of dollars."

Last year, Sen. Franken, along with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), successfully fought to include the Diabetes Prevention Act in the health reform law. The legislation will allow the NDPP to be delivered to patients with pre-diabetes across the country through local health centers and the YMCA.  The 16-week NDPP helps prevent patients with pre-diabetes from developing type 2 diabetes through a course of exercise and nutrition education.  A recent study published by Health Affairs found that Medicare could save between $7 billion and $15 billion by providing a diabetes prevention program to pre-diabetic patients.

Of the more than 24 million Americans suffering from diabetes, 228,000 are Minnesotans.  Another 1.2 million Minnesotans have pre-diabetes, which can sometimes be reversed through changes in diet and exercise.  Sen. Franken received the Congressional Champion Award from the YMCA of the USA for his bipartisan work on the Diabetes Prevention Act and his commitment to conquering the disease. To learn more about Sen. Franken's efforts to reduce diabetes in America, please click here.


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