As Congress and President Obama get set to tackle healthcare reform, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) has begun a multi-front battle to seek Medicare designation for all certified diabetes educators (CDEs).
Members of the Chicago-based AADE teach patients how to appropriately monitor and control their blood glucose levels, how to make positive lifestyle changes through proper nutrition and exercise, and how to address diabetes-specific physical and emotional challenges.
Teaching patients how to effectively control their diabetes through self-management is considered one of the most important ways to avoid deadly diabetes-related complications. However, Medicare does not currently recognize CDEs (who are state licensed or registered health professionals with additional educational credentialing in diabetes) as diabetes education providers. This oversight in the law puts CDEs at a significant disadvantage in trying to provide self-management education that will significantly reduce the tragic consequences of unchecked diabetes.
“It is our goal to have Congress recognize the health benefits and cost savings associated with diabetes education and training provided by CDEs, and that Congress will include the ‘Medicare Diabetes Self Management Training Act,’ H.R. 2425, in its health reform plan,” said Martha Rinker, chief advocacy officer for the AADE. This bipartisan bill is supported by the leadership of the House Diabetes Caucus, as well as major national and state diabetes organizations.
The AADE’s new outreach efforts began today with an e-petition to members, patients, and supporters and will culminate in June in a two-day Capitol Hill lobbying effort to educate Members of Congress about why diabetes educators are such an important part of overall diabetes treatment.
According to Rinker, current research documents provide compelling evidence that effective patient self management of diabetes, when these essential skills are taught by a CDE, saves the entire health system millions of dollars in diabetes-related health costs. “Among the most effective and efficient options we have at hand today to enhance access to diabetes and chronic care is designating Certified Diabetes Educators (CDEs) as providers of diabetes self management training (DSMT) services,” said Rinker. “Including CDEs as Medicare providers of DSMT will help more patients learn how to effectively control their diabetes, and will help physicians manage and treat the growing prevalence of this terrible disease.”
According to AADE consumer advisor Kim DeCoste, RN, CDE, manager, Diabetes Center of Excellence of the Madison County Health Department in Richmond, KY, the DSMT benefit is severely underutilized for a variety of reasons, including lack of public awareness of the benefits of DSMT, difficulty in accessing DSMT programs in some parts of the country because of a lack of recognition of CDEs, and an insufficient number of providers to meet the needs of the 24 million Americans living with diabetes today.
The impact of diabetes on the nation’s public health is immense. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report in 2008 stating that the prevalence of diabetes has grown to 8 percent of the population, or 24 million people. Another 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes. In 2007 alone, 1.6 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years or older.