Del. YMCA Program Could Change Way Medicare Pays for Diabetes Pr - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. YMCA Program Could Change Way Medicare Pays for Diabetes Prevention

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - According to the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services 70,000 people have diabetes in the First State.

YMCA of Delaware is part of a project designed to keep that number from growing.

YMCAs across the country offer a diabetes prevention program. Many of the people the program targets are on Medicare. But Medicare doesn't cover the cost.

YMCAs in Delaware, and a few other states, is using a large grant to provide diabetes prevention classes to 10,000 people over the next three years.

If that is deemed a success, it could lead to Medicare picking up the tab for prevention methods like this.

Ann Mackey, of Smyrna, enrolled in a diabetes prevention class at the Dover YMCA after a visit to her doctor.

"She told me the bad news - that I was pre-diabetic."

Mackey is in a group with six other people. They're making lifestyle changes that they hope will help them avoid diabetes.

"We've been going for 11 weeks now," she said. "Most of us have come close to or have already passed our goals of seven percent weight loss."

"Even modest reductions in weight - five or seven percent - and gradual improvements in your physical activity will drastically reduce your risk of getting diabetes," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said.

Frieden says programs like these can reduce diabetes the risk of pre-diabetes turning into diabetes by about 60 percent.

"We're pretty confident programs like this will save money over the medium-term. That's what is being studied here."

US Sen. Tom Carper's office estimates savings to medicaid of $4 million over three years and $53 million over six years.

DHSS Sect. Rita Landgraf says treating diabetes is expensive.

"We're aware of a ten-year time frame between the time that a person may be diagnosed pre-diabetic before they become diabetic when it is indeed reversible."

That makes the effort Mackey is putting in very important for her future health. She thinks Medicare should pay for preventative programs like the one she is in and points to money hopefully not spent on treating diabetes itself as the reason.

"That would be a cost Medicare wouldn't have to bear," Mackey said. "So, to my way of thinking, that's a good thing for Medicare to do."

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