Rockefeller bill targets diabetes in W.Va. - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Rockefeller bill targets diabetes in W.Va.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEWS RELEASE) – Senator Jay Rockefeller today announced that he reintroduced a bipartisan bill to help combat diabetes by making more West Virginians eligible for preventive care.  The bill will save the federal Medicare program billions of dollars by allowing millions of beneficiaries to take part in a proven diabetes prevention program. 

"Reducing diabetes in West Virginia is imperative," said Rockefeller.  "This bill would use a proven diabetes prevention program to help reduce the prevalence of this disease, and in many cases, help West Virginians avoid it altogether.  It also saves billions of dollars as we try to reduce the federal deficit, and it creates jobs by training more workers in the state to implement this program."

Rockefeller's bill would provide Medicare beneficiaries with access to the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP), a structured, 16-session program focusing on healthy eating and physical activity that has been shown to reduce the onset of type 2 diabetes in seniors at risk for the disease by 71 percent.

Additionally, Rockefeller was recognized by the YMCA for his leadership to prevent diabetes for seniors and low income families, including his work on this bill, and was named a "YMCA Congressional Champion."  Click here to see a photo of Rockefeller receiving the award. 

"By aggressively working to prevent chronic disease, as this bill would do, we can save lives and save more money in our health care system," added Rockefeller.  "This bill would help us make these wishes possible for so many families and I will fight to pass it.  Additionally, the YMCA has made a concerted effort to combat this disease and I appreciate its work and the organization's support of my bill."

West Virginia has some of the highest diabetes rates in the nation.  In 2009, approximately 174,000 adults – 11 percent of West Virginia adults – had diabetes.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 50 percent of the nearly 380,000 people with Medicare in West Virginia may be at risk of developing diabetes.  If current trends continue, one in three children born in West Virginia after the year 2000 will develop diabetes within his or her lifetime.

Last fall, Rockefeller encouraged the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health and the Appalachian Regional Commission to convene a roundtable discussion in Charleston with people from across West Virginia to talk about the state's diabetes prevention efforts.  Dr. Ann Albright, a diabetes expert from the CDC, lent her expertise.  Key groups and advocates from the public and private sectors shared ideas and questions about ways to combat this disease.  The discussion built on many other efforts that have taken place in the state and nationwide.

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