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June 14, 2019

Endocrine Society Protests Cuts to NIH, CDC; Says Diabetes Prevention Program Would Be Curtailed

Mary Caffrey
The proposed cuts would come just as CMS is gearing up to launch the Diabetes Prevention Program in Medicare starting in January 2018. Diabetes accounts for $1 of every $3 spent in Medicare, and CMS has been looking for ways to slow the number of beneficiaries who develop the disease.
The Endocrine Society announced it opposes cuts to scientific research and public health in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, which calls for taking $7.16 billion, or 22%, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and $1.2 billion from the CDC. The group says the cuts would severely harm progress toward advances in medical treatment and disease prevention.

“The proposed cuts would stymie and slow efforts to better understand and treat hundreds of debilitating hormone-related diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, cancer, and infertility,” Ruth Keri, PhD, co-chair of the society’s Research Affairs Core Committee, said in a statement.

The statement singled out potential damage to the CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a long-term mission of the public health agency. The possible cuts come just as CMS is gearing up to launch DPP in Medicare; the program is scheduled to start in January 2018. CDC is tasked with the research and certification aspects of this effort to halt the progression of a disease that already accounts for $1 of every $3 spent in Medicare. A 2002 study by NIH found that the DPP could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% overall and by 71% among those aged 65 and older.

CDC’s role in the program is crucial. It is the keeper of standards and monitors programs around the country, awarding “recognition” to those that go through a rigorous process. CDC recognition is a signal to both consumers and insurers, and CMS already plans to use CDC recognition as a benchmark for whether it will pay for programs.

CDC is now in the process of giving full recognition to the first digital programs, which are viewed as essential to reach seniors who either don’t live near a community program or would prefer a digital format. In particular, there is hope that more men will take part in digital programs.

“The Diabetes Prevention Program has been proven to prevent diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases through a high-access, low cost intervention,” Brenda Schmidt, CEO of Solera Health, an integrator of community organizations and digital platforms delivering the DPP. 

“Continued funding is critical to make the DPP available to as many of the 86 million adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes as possible,” Schmidt said in an email to The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®). Schmidt also serves as president of the Council for Diabetes Prevention.

A hint that funding for DPP might be in jeopardy came on May 12, 2017, when CDC failed to give any notice to 4-year research results of the program that appeared in Diabetes Care, the leading journal of the American Diabetes Association. AJMC® contacted the CDC for comment and has not received a return call from the spokesperson.

 
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