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Going to Capitol Hill for Diabetes Educators

May 28, 2013

About 25 years ago, a friend said he was going to “March on Washington.”  I heard “road trip”!  I put on my jean jacket, got $20, and boarded the bus. I don’t know what I was fighting for. I doubt I did then!

Fast forward to May 21, 2013.  I joined 50 diabetes educators on Capitol Hill representing 26 states with 100 meetings scheduled.  We went through a training session one day and to the Hill the next. By the time we walked toward the Capitol, we understood the issues, what we were asking for, and how to ask.  It may sound intimidating to meet with those in Congress and the Senate.  It definitely wasn’t in my comfort zone.  But, by the time I heard the speakers and reviewed my materials, I was not intimidated in the least. I know what I am fighting for now. 

  

In the US, there are 26 million people with diabetes.The economic cost of diabetes is currently estimated at $245 billion. A person with diabetes lives with it 24/7 with over 90% of care in the form of self-management.  There has been legislation since 1997 covering diabetes self-management training (DSMT) as a Medicare benefit.  But, credentialed diabetes educators are not included in this legislation as providers of DSMT. There currently aren’t enough programs to provide DSMT to those with diabetes. We need better access to quality education for people with diabetes!

There are currently bills in the House and Senate (H.R. 1274 and S. 945, respectively); the Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act of 2013. If passed, credentialed diabetes educators would be recognized as Medicare providers for outpatient DSMT. Through a cost analysis, the bill is “budget neutral” meaning it won’t cost the government money. In fact, the average Medicare savings for a person who has completed DSMT is $135 per month/per patient!  If passed, Medicare could save $2 million per year!

What can you do to help?

  • Consider being an AADE State Legislative Coordinator.  Maybe next year, you will be in the picture.
  • Visit your representatives, in Washington, D.C. or when they are home.  A personal contact, reminding them you are a constituent, and providing valuable information about the bill, goes a long way.  If you need direction, contact the Advocacy staff at AADE.  You will be provided everything you need.  You don’t have to know all of the answers; just let them know you will get back to them if you don’t (contact AADE for help).  Know that you will likely be talking to a Legislative Assistant.  This is okay. The representatives utilize these important people to get their information.  Leave them supporting materials (available from AADE) for review by your representative.
  • Go to local meetings or other activities sponsored by your representative and talk to them.
  • Call the Senate or Congressional office, preferably the home office when they are there.
  • Write to your representative.  You can use a form letter/email but try to personalize it at the beginning and end.  They get a ton of correspondences so try to make yours stand out. The more you adjust a form letter, the better.

We need to fight for better access. You can help. Consider contacting your representative today, and next week, and the one after that until the bill is passed!
 

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