Washington, D.C. – The Bipartisan Policy Center issues the following statement by Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture and co-chair to BPC’s Prevention Task Force and Bill Hoagland, senior vice president of BPC, on the announcement today by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell that Medicare will cover certain evidence-based diabetes prevention programs provided by a range of health professionals including lay health workers:
“This change represents the first time Medicare has covered this type of lifestyle intervention program for chronic disease prevention. It is based on positive results from a federally funded pilot program conducted by the YMCA of the USA that showed improvements to health outcomes as well as cost reductions.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eighty-six million Americans are prediabetic, including more than 20 million older Americans. With $176 billion in direct medical costs attributable to diabetes each year, more than one in five U.S. health care dollars is estimated to be spent on patients with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is preventable, and the diabetes prevention program demonstrates how lifestyle interventions can succeed in doing so.
“Chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity are costing American families, businesses, and government at all levels. Prevention is a powerful tool, but achieving national results has been difficult. In its 2015 report, A Prevention Prescription for Improving Health and Health Care in America, BPC’s Prevention Task Force called for an increased effort to build the evidence base for prevention and to identify opportunities to integrate prevention within our existing system of care delivery.
“Expanding Medicare coverage for these evidence-based programs is a significant step in this direction and will help create a path toward lowering the burden of chronic disease to improve lives and reduce Medicare spending.”