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Expert Touts Sen. Franken’s Diabetes Prevention Measure as Key to Reining in Nation’s Health Care Costs

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A top diabetes expert told U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and other members of a Senate health panel Wednesday that Sen. Franken’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) is key to reining in the nation’s health care costs.

The program, which helps patients with pre-diabetes avoid full-blown type 2 diabetes through 16 weeks of diet and exercise education, was authored by Sen. Franken and included in last year’s health reform law. Dr. John W. Griffin, Chair of the Board for the American Diabetes Association, told members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that the NDPP is critical to battling the fast-growing and costly disease, which affects millions of Americans.

“[The National Diabetes Prevention Program] represents the best comprehensive effort to date to prevent disease and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans,” said Dr. Griffin. “Funding efforts to prevent diabetes is essential to reining in our nation’s ballooning healthcare costs.”

“Diabetes is approaching epidemic proportions in Minnesota and across the country.  This one disease alone is costing our health care system billions and billions of dollars each year,” said Sen. Franken. “Proven prevention efforts like the NDPP will help cut health care costs and help Minnesotans avoid the debilitating and costly effects of type 2 diabetes."

Last week, Senate appropriators approved $10 million for the NDPP and sent the measure to the full Senate, where it will be debated as part the 2012 health care budget bill in the coming months.

In 2010, Sen. Franken joined forces with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) to successfully include their 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.  

Sen. Franken has also championed the NDPP as a way for the federal Medicare program and the federal veterans health care system to save billions of dollars each year. A recent study published by Health Affairs found that Medicare could save between $7 billion and $15 billion by providing the NDPP 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. 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, please click here.

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