Diabetes Forecast

A Long and Winding Road to Health Care Reform

By Henry Rodriguez, MD, Associate Editor , ,

The bumpy road to health care reform was surely frustrating to anyone with diabetes and to anyone who cares for or about people with diabetes. Yet, each day has reminded us of why reform was so urgently needed.

Think of the owners of small family businesses who have been forced to declare bankruptcy because their diabetes care costs "broke the camel's back." Consider those who risk losing their ability to afford life-sustaining diabetes care and supplies because they are facing unemployment, a job change, or an employer's decision to switch to a lower-cost health insurance plan with fewer benefits. We must sustain and expand our advocacy efforts on behalf of all those affected by diabetes to ensure that we are heard by our fellow citizens and our legislators.

On the brighter side, I am happy to report that the need to create a smoother transition from pediatric to adult care for young people with diabetes has garnered national attention. Communication is improving between pediatric and adult diabetes care providers, as was highlighted by a recent American Diabetes Association Position Statement Conference on this subject. The participants represented the pediatric and adult sides of diabetes care, nursing, and psychology. The resulting position statement should provide a clearer road map to better coordinated care transfer for young adults.

Another hopeful sign is First Lady Michelle Obama's recent launch of her Let's Move campaign to eliminate childhood obesity in this country "within a generation." She will be leading a national public awareness effort to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity, which in turn would greatly reduce children's risk for type 2 diabetes. President Obama supports the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and is proposing a $10 billion budget increase ($1 billion a year over 10 years) to help provide school lunches to children who qualify on the basis of family income. This bill would also make all foods and beverages sold at school more nutritious. Finally, legislation before Congress would reauthorize for five years the Special Diabetes Programs for type 1 diabetes research and for diabetes prevention and treatment in American Indians and Native Alaskans. These three initiatives are a great boost for diabetes prevention.

So, despite our frustrations, we continue to make progress in improving the lives of Americans at risk for and affected by diabetes. If you are not yet involved, I hope that you will join in this ongoing effort by becoming a Diabetes Advocate at diabetes.org/takeaction.



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