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Capito backs bipartisan Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act

Bluefield Daily Telegraph - 11/15/2023

Nov. 15—U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is backing a bipartisan bill that seeks to help prevent diabetes and lower health care costs.

Capito has joined with U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., in reintroducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act. If approved the measure would extend Medicare coverage for medical nutrition therapy services to Americans with pre-diabetes and risk factors for developing type-2 diabetes. Under current law, Medicare will only cover medical nutrition therapy services for individuals already diagnosed with diabetes or renal disease, according to Capito's office.

Capito said the measure would also provide long-term care costs for Medicare.

"In West Virginia, we understand the costs and challenges associated with diabetes, and continue to battle with one of the highest adult rates of the disease in the nation," Capito said. "It is essential we focus on how we can inhibit more West Virginians and Americans from developing type-2 diabetes and strengthen our prevention efforts. I'm proud to reintroduce this legislation that would expand services for individuals with pre-diabetes and risk factors, and increase our ability to prevent West Virginians from struggling with this disease in the first place."

"Expanding access to this type of health care will provide more Americans with the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, and without breaking the bank," Peters added in a prepared statement issued by Capito's office. "It's also a commonsense way to help lower Medicare costs for all taxpayers in the long-run, and I'll keep fighting to get it passed and signed into law."

Passage of the bill by Congress would allow West Virginians access to medical nutrition therapy that could contribute to decreased rates of diabetes in the state and help to improve health outcomes for many individuals, according to Rebecca Dattola, MS, RD, LD, public policy coordinator of the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"As a state with a high rate of diabetes, the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics appreciates and supports Senator Capito's efforts to reintroduce this legislation," Dattola said.

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 223,338 people in West Virginia, or 15.7 percent of the adult population, have diagnosed diabetes. Additionally, an estimated 45,000 people in West Virginia have diabetes but don't know it, greatly increasing their health risk, according to Capito's office.

Another 502,000 people in West Virginia, or 34.8 percent of the adult population, have prediabetes with blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Every year an estimated 10,473 people in West Virginia are diagnosed with diabetes.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens

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