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Congressman Raul Ruiz

Representing the 36th District of California

Reps. Ruiz, DeGette, Reed introduce bill to make Diabetes Self-Management classes free for Medicare patients

March 22, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) helped introduce legislation, along with Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Tom Reed (R-NY), to expand access to a Medicare program that teaches patients with diabetes how to best manage their diabetes and cope with its effects.

Diabetes self-management trainings, or DSMTs, teach Medicare beneficiaries how to manage their glucose, eat healthy, manage their insulin levels, and improve their overall wellbeing. While 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries currently have diabetes - less than five percent of newly diagnosed beneficiaries enroll in one of these self-management class.

"As a physician, I've trated patients in the emergency department whose insulin levels fluctuated to life-threatening levels," said Dr. Ruiz, Vice-Chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus. "The millions of Americans living with diabetes deserve access to education and disease management that can help them live healthy, productive lives. I am proud to cosponsor this common-sense legislation

“Diabetes is a complex disease and teaching newly diagnosed patients how to best care for themselves is crucial to their overall wellbeing,” Representative DeGette said. “Medicare provides its beneficiaries a free training course to teach them how to best cope with the effects of their diabetes. But, while this program teaches patients how to eat well, exercise, monitor blood glucose levels and manage medications, only a small percentage of the Medicare beneficiaries who have diabetes are taking advantage of it. This bill seeks to change that by expanding the program and making it more accessible to the millions of Medicare beneficiaries who are currently living with this disease.”

The bill seeks to increase patients’ use of these self-management trainings by making more classes available in more locations, and making them free for Medicare beneficiaries.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Allow Medicare to provide diabetes self-management classes in outpatient and community-based locations
  • Eliminates the 20% co-pay for patients, making the classes completely free for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Increasing from 10 to 16 the number of training hours Medicare will provide to newly-diagnosed patients in the first year.
  • Increasing from two to six the number of follow-up training hours Medicare will provide patients every year.

The bill has the support of the American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators, Academy of Nutrition and Dietics, National Council on Aging and Novo Nordisk.