Sept. 2, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Daschle: Prevent Type 2 Diabetes, Cut Health Care Costs

Given the clear benefits of these lifestyle modifications to reduce the escalating rates of Type 2 diabetes, the CDC is collaborating with YMCA of the USA and UnitedHealthcare to implement the NDPP in YMCAs across the country. In one year’s time, the YMCA has been able to scale the NDPP to 170 sites in 43 communities in 23 states. But there is more to be done.

Investing in proven prevention programs such as the NDPP is necessary to save funds over the long term.

A recent study by Ken Thorpe and Zhou Yang, published in September’s “Health Affairs,” used conservative estimates to show that offering the NDPP to overweight and obese prediabetic adults ages 60-64 could save the Medicare program as much as $2.3 billion over 10 years and as much as $9.3 billion over a lifetime. Those savings to the Medicare program could reach as much as $3.7 billion over 10 years and $15 billion over a lifetime if non-prediabetic, overweight adults who are at risk for cardiovascular disease were also enrolled in the program. Based on these potential savings, the article proposed that Medicare expand its wellness benefit to include reimbursement for programs similar to the NDPP.

Programs such as the NDPP have the right formula for success: a public/private partnership with years of government-sponsored data showing substantial positive effects on patients and reduced costs to the health care system. These kinds of programs should be scaled to achieve savings in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

During times of budget constraints, our understandable inclination is often to cut and shift costs as opposed to redesigning and investing in system improvements that can yield long-term results. However, in the midst of these pressures, we simply cannot afford to lose sight of investing in what works.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is now a senior policy adviser at DLA Piper, whose clients include Novo Nordisk A/S, a health care company that focuses on diabetes care.

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