The California Diabetes Program Has Been Saved!

Dear Colleagues,

Late yesterday the California Diabetes Program received official notice that their request for exemption from the Governor’s Executive Order was approved! This allows the program and staff to continue without interruption. The news came in the nick-of-time as lay-offs were scheduled for October 1, 2008.

The Diabetes Coalition of California and the California Diabetes Program wish to thank all of you for your quick response. Your calls and emails to the Governor and other California state leaders were instrumental in getting the exemption. We are hopeful that many other state contracts and programs that are threatened by the Executive Order will also receive an exemption in the next few days.

This experience shows how fragile public health programs are, as are the advances we’ve made. We encourage you to join the Diabetes Coalition of California and visit the Diabetes Information Resource Center (DIRC) at to connect with other organizations working to protect public health in California.

Thank you. You have made a difference.

Kim Higgins, RN, CDE
Chair, Diabetes Coalition of California

Here’s what Kim wrote September 26, 2008:

Dear Colleagues,

The California Diabetes Program and other outstanding public health programs are in great danger. On September 23, 2008 the Governor signed the budget. It was 84 days late. Unfortunately, the Executive Order that was initiated on July 31 that suspended all state contracts was not lifted with the signing of the budget. The latest information states that the Order will not be lifted for the remainder of the state fiscal year ending in June 2009.

The California Diabetes Program and many other programs in the Chronic Disease and Injury Control Division (CDIC) rely on contracts and contract staff to implement the work. All employees in the California Diabetes Program are contract staff and the program is supported entirely with federal funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The University of California San Francisco holds a contract with the Department of Public Health that allows the California Diabetes Program to function. This contract is suspended. The impact of the suspension is irreversible. The California Diabetes Program will not be able to complete current federal grant obligations and may not respond to an application set for release in October 2008 for the next 5-year grant cycle — resulting in the closure of the program and a loss of over $6 million in federal funds.

The California Diabetes Program has made five requests for exemption from the suspended contracts, but to date, no requests have been granted. Therefore, on October 1, 2008 the staff will be furloughed. This means their salaries will stop. They will need to seek new employment. Without an exemption all services will cease, including the Diabetes Information Resource Center (DIRC) at There is no alternative funding source or service providers.

Fiscal Impact:

  • In the CDIC Division alone there are federally funded contracts totaling $30 million in this fiscal year. These contracts support prevention and control programs that address health inequities for the most vulnerable populations including high-risk groups such as Latinos/Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans and the poor. Contracts include the state’s entire diabetes program and physical activity program. Contracts also support programs targeting obesity prevention, heart disease and stroke, cancer, and nutrition.
  • The CDIC staff make-up is 20% state employed staff (81 individuals) and 80% contracted staff (319 individuals).
  • If all contract staff in CDIC alone are laid off, the cost to the state for unemployment benefits for one year will be about $7.5 million.
  • The loss of experienced staff and damage to the Department’s ability to address chronic disease cannot be quantified.
  • Suspended contracts increase the risk for the loss of future federal funds, as programs cannot meet current requirements, nor can they apply for the grant opportunities that are meant to support their activities.

It makes good business sense to request a blanket exemption from the Governor for all federally funded contracts supporting public health programs.

Please call today and make these key points:

  1. All federally funded contracts supporting public health programs should be exempt from suspension. We need a blanket exemption.
  2. The state is not saving money by suspending contracts supported by federal dollars.
  3. The state will lose about $30 million in this fiscal year alone for federally funded programs in just one division within the Department of Public Health.
  4. The state will end up paying unemployment benefits for a substantial number of furloughed contract staff. In just one division within the Department of Public Health the annual cost to the state will be about $7.5 million.
  5. In California, total annual costs for diabetes equal $25 billion.
  6. California has the largest number of people with diabetes in the U.S. – over 2.5 million.

Diabetes statistics:

  • 1 in 10 adults have diabetes in California.
  • About 1 in 5 adults have pre-diabetes and are at high risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires complex treatments.
  • Diabetes rates have doubled in the last decade, making it a public health emergency.

Call first, then email. Fight for public health programs. Time is of the essence!

Please contact Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
(916) 445-2841

Please contact Kim Belshe, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency
(916) 654-3454

Sheila Kuehl, Chair, Senate Health Committee
(916) 651-4023

Samuel Aanestad, Vice Chair Senate Health Committee
(916) 651-4004

Mervyn M. Dymally, Chair Assembly Health Committee
(916) 319-2052

Alan Nakanishi, Vice Chair Assembly Health Committee
(916) 319-2010


Kim Higgins, RN, CDE
Chair, Diabetes Coalition of California

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