Legislation would support research on diabetes, which impacts 1 in 9 Americans

February 26, 2015

(WASHINGTON, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, reintroduced bipartisan legislation today to establish a national commission of health care experts to advance diabetes care and prevention. The bill, the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Care Act, would bring together public and private sector experts in diabetes research and treatment to focus on improving diabetes care delivery and patient outcomes. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Gary Peters (D-MI).

“Diabetes severely impacts the quality of life of millions of Americans, and experts anticipate that number will continue to grow,” Shaheen said. “We must take steps to better streamline and leverage our federal investments in diabetes research, prevention and treatment to improve the quality of care and save on health care costs. Our bipartisan effort is a great place to start.”

“As the founder and co-chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, I know that diabetes is a costly and devastating disease that affects people of every age, race and nationality. The disease is the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness in adults and amputations not related to injury, and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Diabetes can shorten life expectancy up to 15 years,” Collins said. “In addition, one out of every three Medicare dollars is spent on people with diabetes. That is why I have joined again with my Diabetes Caucus Co-Chair, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, in introducing the bipartisan National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act.  The Commission will bring together public and private experts in diabetes research and treatments to develop a strategic plan for improving care for people with diabetes.  It is our hope that this legislation will help change the trajectory of this devastating disease.”

Specifically, the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission will help improve the quality of diabetes care by:

  • Identifying gaps where new approaches are needed to improve diabetes care;
  • Eliminating duplication and conflicting efforts and assisting in coordination of all federal agencies;
  • Leveraging the significant federal investment in research by evaluating best practices and other resources and tools for diabetes health care professionals and patients;
  • Evaluating the utilization and data collection mechanisms of existing programs
  • Providing guidance on diabetes clinical care to maximize the effectiveness of our strong federal investment on diabetes research.

More than 29 million Americans are afflicted with diabetes and another 86 million have pre-diabetes, a condition that is known to progress to diabetes without early intervention, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and can lead to many other chronic diseases and conditions, such as blindness and kidney failure. As one of the most expensive chronic diseases, diabetes costs the American health care system billions of dollars each year. In 2012, the U.S. spent $245 billion in 2012 on diagnosed diabetes, representing a 41 percent increase over 5 years. Today, one of every three Medicare dollars is spent on the condition.

As co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Shaheen and Collins have worked together to increase awareness of the threats posed by diabetes, invest in research, and improve access to treatment options. Shaheen and Collins partnered earlier this year to reintroduce legislation to enhance research on gestational diabetes and have been leaders in supporting the Special Diabetes Program and the artificial pancreas, a device that could improve the lives of millions of Americans living with diabetes. They’ve also introduced legislation to expand access to care for seniors with diabetes, and last year, introduced a bill to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to continuous glucose monitors.