Diabetes Prevention Program under the Affordable Care Act is working, HHS Secretary Burwell says

Tested at YMCA, this marks the first time a CMS Innovation Center preventative service has become eligible for expansion in Medicare.
By Bernie Monegain
11:49 AM
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell

Chalk up a big win for diabetes prevention. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced Wednesday that a preventive model of care for people with diabetes is indeed working. And now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering how it would expand this model broadly throughout the Medicare program.

This is the first time a preventive service model from the CMS Innovation Center has become eligible for expansion into the Medicare program.

YMCA of USA used $11.8 million in funding, under the Affordable Care Act, to test the Diabetes Prevention Program model. YMCA enrolled eligible Medicare beneficiaries at high risk for diabetes in a lifestyle coach program focused on improving diet and increasing physical activity. The target was a 5 percent weight loss.

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The proof is in the results: Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the program lost about 5 percent of their body weight, and more than 80 percent of participants attended at least four weekly sessions. Also, when compared with similar beneficiaries not it the program, Medicare estimated savings of $2,650 for each enrollee over a 15-month period, more than enough to cover the cost of the program, according to CMS actuaries.

"This program has been shown to reduce healthcare costs and help prevent diabetes,” Burwell said in a statement. “Medicare, employers and private insurers can use [the model] to help 86 million Americans live healthier.”

About 30 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, resulting in two deaths every five minutes across the country. Moreover, 86 million Americans have a high risk of developing diabetes, because one in every three adults has prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, according to the CDC.

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