Senator Boxer: Reduce Diabetes Suffering and Costs   

Friday, September 7, 2007  

The diabetes epidemic continues to grow in California and the nation.  The American Diabetes Association currently estimates that there are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7 percent of the population, who have diabetes.  Unfortunately, 6.2 million people – about a third of the total – are unaware that they have the disease and receive no treatment for it.

Diabetes can be a devastating disease, and, left untreated, the consequences can be even more extreme.  It is also a costly disease.  In 2002, the American Diabetes Association estimated the total annual economic cost of diabetes in the United States to be more than $132 billion, including direct medical expenditures of $92 billion and indirect costs at $40.8 billion from lost workdays, restricted activity days, mortality, and permanent disability due to diabetes.  In fact, one out of every ten health care dollars spent in the United States is spent on diabetes and its complications.

I am cosponsoring legislation aimed at reducing both the suffering and the enormous costs caused by diabetes.  The Diabetes Screening and Medicaid Savings Act of 2007, S.755, is a comprehensive bill to combat the costly complications associated with diabetes by guaranteeing better Medicaid coverage and utilizing preventive health care measures.

This legislation would combat the rising number of diabetes cases by providing screening tests under the Medicaid program for high-risk adult enrollees and ensuring that States offer the benefits needed to adequately manage diabetes care.  The approach is to focus on screening and prevention to lower the overall burden on our health care system and create a healthier, more productive society.  By focusing on early-age prevention rather than costly end-of-life care, we can provide for healthier people and spend less in the long run.

The legislation would also provide better coverage for diabetes prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, and services related to pregnancy, vision care, podiatry, nutrition, and education and self-management training. While diabetes is a manageable disease, individuals' ability to effectively deal with and suppress its symptoms is directly tied to their ability to access affordable and adequate health insurance coverage.  I am pleased to support this legislation to help provide that access and coverage.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer, US Senator, California
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer