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Bill backed by Reed would expand Medicare diabetes self-management training access

WBFO file photo

A Western New York congressman is backing proposed legislation that would broaden access to a Medicare-backed program that fosters training to self-manage diabetes.

The bill Congressman Tom Reed discussed during his weekly conference call, the Expanding Access to the Diabetes Self-Management Training Act, would expand the pilot program to allow the use of telemedicine. It would also allow more people to prescribe the program, not just doctors but also nurses, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists.

It would also seek to expand the number of hours that could be reimbursed and ease the cost burden to qualifying patients.

"To encourage participation in this, we are removing those out-of-pocket expenses, those co-insurance expenses, and encourage people to try and remove a barrier from undergoing this self-management training," Reed said. 

The congressman participated in a roundtable in Corning last week and shared some of the feedback received during that meeting which is applied to this proposed legislation.

"To make sure not only are people, when they're pre-diabetic or potentially diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in particular, that they get the training and self-management technique through an educational course this is designed to assist with, in order for them to better handle their diabetes condition," Reed said. 

Reed, during his conference call, also discussed the cost of insulin, which has soared over the past 20 years. He and Congressman Brian Higgins grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in February about drug prices. Azar is a former executive at Eli Lilly, which produces the insulin drug Humalog. Under Azar's watch, Eli Lilly raised the price of Humalog from $122 per vial in 2012 to $274 for the same in 2017.

The American Diabetes Association - in a white paper released Tuesday - says drug companies continue to set and raise insulin prices. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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