The Department of Health and Human Services announced the success of its first preventive program for diabetes.

In 2011, the CMS Innovation Center awarded the National YMCA Council $11.8 million to enroll eligible Medicare beneficiaries who were at high risk for developing diabetes in a program designed to reduce that risk. Participants met with a lifestyle coach weekly for the first month to learn about strategies for dietary change and increased physical activity. After the initial training, participants could attend monthly followup meetings.

Calling the results “striking,” HHS said that beneficiaries enrolled in the program lost approximately 5 percent of their body weight, enough to reduce the risk of diabetes. Over 90 percent of participants attended at lease four weekly sessions. And CMS estimated $2,650 per enrollee in savings over a 15 month period, “…more than enough to cover the cost of the program.”

The program was evaluated by the independent Office of the Actuary for CMS, who certified that expanding the Diabetes Prevention Program would reduce net Medicare spending.

“Today’s announcement is a milestone for prevention and America’s health,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. "This program has been shown to reduce health care costs and help prevent diabetes, and is one that Medicare, employers and private insurers can use to help 86 million Americans live healthier.”

Our Take: The results posted by this pilot project are truly remarkable. This easy-to- execute program based on education at the local YMCA is an advancement in “well care.” If implemented nationally, the Diabetes Prevention Program is a roadmap for creating a healthier aging population. 

Leave a comment