In Senate Speech, Sen. Franken Urges Colleagues to Extend Diabetes Prevention Program to Millions of Seniors on Medicare
Senator Tells Colleagues Extending National Diabetes Prevention Program Could Save Billions of Dollars, Reduce Diabetes Incidence in Seniors by over 70 Percent
Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate, in which he encouraged his colleagues to support his bipartisan legislation that would extend the National Diabetes Prevention Program - which has been proven to significantly reduce the incidence of diabetes among seniors - to all seniors covered by Medicare. Studies have shown that extending the program to Medicare patients could save the federal government billions of dollars per year.
"There's no question that by preventing diabetes, we can all save money while keeping our seniors healthy," said Sen. Franken in his speech. "That's why I introduced legislation yesterday ... to allow Medicare to cover the National Diabetes Prevention Program. We're doing this to help our seniors enjoy their golden years while staying as healthy as possible, but also because it's the fiscally responsible thing to do."
The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act was introduced by Sen. Franken and cosponsored by Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). For more information on the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Act, please click here.
The full text of Sen. Franken's floor speech is available below.
STATEMENT ON THE INTRODUCTION OF THE MEDICARE DIABETES PREVENTION ACT OF 2012
Senator Al Franken (as prepared for delivery)
M. President, the burden of chronic disease in our country is staggering. Chronic disease affects half of all American adults, and seven out of ten deaths each year are due to chronic disease. If current trends continue, by the year 2020, 52 percent of American adults will either have type 2 diabetes or elevated glucose levels-known as "prediabetes." And diabetes can often lead to other chronic diseases, such as heart disease.
But as grim as these statistics are for our country, we also have some of the best health care researchers in the world. And a few years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a pilot program called the Diabetes Prevention Program in two cities-St. Paul, Minnesota and Indianapolis, Indiana. This program, which was administered by the YMCA, is a 16-session program focusing on healthy eating and physical activity, and it only costs about $300 dollars per participant.
The results of this pilot were extraordinary-among adults with prediabetes, who are at the highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes, the program reduced the chances that a participant would be diagnosed with diabetes by 58 percent. And for adults over the age of 60, it reduced the likelihood of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by 71 percent.
That's why Senator Lugar and I introduced legislation in 2009 to authorize the National Diabetes Prevention Program as a grant program through the CDC. This bill, which was passed as part of the health care law, is helping community-based organizations like the YMCA to administer the program across the country.
No one can participate in this important program if it's not available, which is why we needed the CDC to help expand the program. And thanks to their work, and to my provision in the Affordable Care Act, the YMCA is now offering the Diabetes Prevention Program at more than 300 sites in 30 states. But we also need health insurers to pay for the program, in order to make sure that everyone who needs it can get it.
We know that when eligible adults participate in the program, it saves everyone money-in fact, the CEO of United Healthcare told me that they save 4 dollars for every dollar they invest in the program, because their beneficiaries are healthier. And the Urban Institute estimated that implementing community programs like the diabetes prevention program could save $191 billion dollars nationally, with 75 percent of the savings-more than $142 billion dollars-going to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
That's why the federal government should also invest in this cost-saving program for seniors. Nearly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries had diabetes in 2010, and the diabetes prevention program costs only about $300 dollars per participant, as compared to more than $6,000 dollars a year in added health care costs for someone with type 2 diabetes. There's no question that by preventing diabetes, we can all save money while keeping our seniors healthy.
That's why I introduced legislation yesterday with my friends, Senators Lugar, Rockefeller, Collins, and Shaheen to allow Medicare to cover the National Diabetes Prevention Program. We're doing this to help our seniors enjoy their golden years while staying as healthy as possible, but also because it's the fiscally responsible thing to do.
That's also why the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Council on Aging have all endorsed this legislation. The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, and the YMCA of the USA have also endorsed our bill, as have 79 state and local organizations.
We know how to prevent type 2 diabetes. And we know how to do it while saving the federal government billions of dollars.
M. President, let's work together to prevent chronic disease in our country. I urge you and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in guaranteeing that every senior has access to the diabetes prevention program when they need it.
Thank you, and I yield the floor.