Update from Capital Hill and Beacon Hill

I was able to attend the AADE National Advocacy Forum in Chicago in May  It’s purpose was to give attendees most up to date information on  bills before Congress that are pertinent to persons with diabetes and diabetes educators.  Our job is to make members of our state organization aware of these bills and encourage their participation in legislative process by communicating with their legislators the importance of upcoming bills to the lives of the patients they are caring for with diabetes.  

There is pending Congressional legislation with strong interest from national AADE.  They are:

HR 309:  Clinical Care Commission act:  To create a federal commission on diabetes to coordinate and recommend diabetes services and treatments

HR 1313 Preserving Employee Wellness Programs act:  This could require genetic testing as part of workplace wellness programs.  Of note AADE opposes this bill

S 1299  Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act of 2017:  To reduce the occurrence of diabetes in Medicare beneficiaries by extending coverage under Medicare for medical nutrition therapy services to such beneficiaries with pre-diabetes or with risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

HR 1542 HELLP act:  To cover physician services delivered by pediatric physicians to ensure access by Medicaid beneficiaries to appropriate quality foot and ankle care, to amend title XVIII of such Act to modify the requirements for diabetic shoes to be included under Medicare, and for other purposes.

Massachusetts State Legislation now in Committee:

H 1128  Act relevant to diabetes prevention:  The commissioner of public health shall establish within the department a diabetes action plan. The department shall develop the plan in consultation with the health policy commission, the center for health information and analysis, the group insurance commission and the division of medical assistance.  (This bill passed the House in 2016; presently in the (Committee on Public Health)

H.1362:  Act to Provide Diabetes Prevention Program benefits:  Shall provide to any active or retired employee of the commonwealth who is insured under the group insurance commission and is identified as someone with pre-diabetes those items and services furnished under a diabetes prevention program recognized as a National Diabetes Prevention Program as established by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

S214:  Act relative to the Administration of Diabetes Medication:  The Department of Education and Department of Public Health shall jointly promulgate regulations, within 180 days of the passage of this act, to allow for training of school employees in the emergency administration of glucagon for students with diabetes. Said regulations shall allow for administration of glucagon by a trained member(s) of the school staff when a nurse is not present and the student exhibits symptoms of severe hypoglycemia. 

These bills if enacted can be of major importance for our patients with diabetes.  We as diabetes educators need to review current legislation before Congress and our State House and contact our individual legislators to give our support or to discuss why a particular bill could be detrimental to the health of our patients. 

On June 6th the state ADA advocacy liaison,  a patient advocate who has had diabetes for over 60 years, the Massachusetts Director of the YMCA and I testified before the Committee on Public Health.  We discussed the importance  House Bill 1128 would have on people living with diabetes in Massachusetts.  This is the first step in showing the public support for the bill.   This bill if passed would create a state Diabetes Action Plan whose purpose would be to ensure that state legislatures and other policymakers would be working strategically to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in the state.  The plan would be rewritten every two years for the legislature reflecting financial and health impact of diabetes.

The second step helping the bill to be passed needs interested members of the public to contact Committee members about its value.  The members can be lobbied to report the bill out favorably or unfavorably .  If you as a diabetes educator feels the Diabetes Action Plan has merit and would help your patients, consider contacting the Committee.  The Committee members can be found by going the Commonwealth of Massachusetts web site www.mass.gov/portal/.  Click legislature then Committees.  The members of the joint committee will be listed with their email and state house addresses.

I hope you will give consideration to supporting this bill.  At present 16 states have passed a Diabetes Action Plan and several others are working on DAP bills.   Let’s make Massachusetts the 17th.


Sherry Smith-Ossman

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