Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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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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  1. Jun 08, 2013

    Thanks for the great comments. This shouldn't cause any changes for program certification; just opens other options. Credentialed CDEs and BC-ADMs would have increased ability to provide services. As Annie has said, we need to persevere. Continue to contact your representatives. I will be watching for when mine are home to visit them in their local offices.
  2. Jun 03, 2013

    With all the news on diabetes and marijuana, just curious as to what is happening with your patients.
  3. Jun 03, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Would this change the requirements for program certification as well?
  4. Jun 02, 2013

    While I agree that diabetes education needs to be accessible. I do not agree that any person with a CDE is qualified to bill for services or that this would make access to diabetes education more accessible. The May/June issue of the Diabetes Educator has an excellent article by Jane Dickinson, et al. "The Process and Rationale for an Online Master's Program in Diabetes management recommending an advanced degree program to qualify in the specialty. The article cites Tenderich (2007, "The Crisis in Diabetes Education: Essential care that is riddled with problems" in Diabetes Health )who noted that" the preparation for becoming a certified diabetes educator is 'backwards' in that you have to be employed as a diabetes educator for a 1000 hours before you can be certified....and points out that this is a major obstacle to recruit more educators. As for the CDE being 'easier to obtain' as one person commented, it is still hard to obtain the required hours.
  5. May 31, 2013

    Karen, thank you, this sums it up nicely. FYI, several of the powerpoints and training materials from DC are posted on the AADE Policy and Advocacy page. Great info, I encourage everyone to review it. AADE provided us all with great training to prepare us for our Capital Hill visits, it was so rewarding to talk to our Congressmen and Senators, about something so important to our profession and patients. I echo Annie Littlejohn's comments, I believe we accompished what we aimed to do, and we need to persevere. Our advocacy efforts are PROACTIVE to make the difference in the future of diabetes education and CDEs/BCADMs.
  6. May 29, 2013

    Thank You Karen for explaining so all can understand what we are fighting for. This was also a first for me in Washington and hopefully will not be a last. Visiting the offices of those that make discisions for us was eye opening. I believe that we accomplished what we aimed to accomplish. But as was stressed in our meetings we have to persevere. I also ask all CDEs to contact their representatives to support of H.R. 1274 and S. 945.

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