At its annual meeting yesterday attended by more than 3,000 diabetes educators, The American Association of Diabetes Educators, AADE, again called on Congress to pass legislation that would result in more people with diabetes gaining access to diabetes education. Diabetes education has been shown to reduce healthcare expenses and enhance the public health.
Two companion bills, H.R. 1726, and S. 1345, currently before Congress, are known as The Access To Quality Diabetes Education Act of 2015.
The legislation would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to recognize credentialed diabetes educators as providers of diabetes education services, including tele-health services, under part B of the Medicare program.
Teaching patients how to effectively control their diabetes through diabetes self-management training (DSMT) is considered one of the most important and cost effective tools in the arsenal for diabetes treatment and the avoidance of deadly diabetes-related complications. These include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and amputation. Diabetes education also results in a reduced need for hospitalizations. In fact, a systematic review of the effect of DSMT on A1C levels, an average measure of blood glucose levels over 2-3 months, shows that DSME results in additional improvement of A1C levels compared with usual care.
Diabetes education is a covered benefit; however, many patients do not have access because Medicare does not currently recognize credentialed diabetes educators, who are state licensed or registered health professionals with additional educational credentialing in diabetes, as diabetes education providers.
This oversight in the law puts credentialed diabetes educators – and patients — at a significant disadvantage. Designating credentialed diabetes educators as recognized providers of diabetes self-management training will make it easier for more educators to operate Medicare-certified programs and deliver vital diabetes education services to more patients.
Roughly 29 million people have diabetes, and 86 million Americans 20 years or older are estimated to have pre-diabetes, making the disease one of the largest threats to the public health.