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NYSHealth Hosts “National Diabetes Prevention Program: A Conversation with Kenneth Thorpe”

May 3, 2012

On May 3, 2012, NYSHealth hosted a conversation with Kenneth Thorpe, Ph.D., Professor and Chair at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and Executive Director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. Dr. Thorpe discussed the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a model that has been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58% among adults with prediabetes.

Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing preventable chronic diseases, and accounts for $1 of every $3 of Medicare spending. In New York, 1.8 million people have diabetes and another 4.5 million have prediabetes—meaning they are on a path to developing the disease, based on elevated levels of blood sugar.

Dr. Thorpe gave an overview of the DPP; the projected cost savings from expanding the DPP; the importance of getting payers, especially Medicare, to reimburse for the program; and the opportunities within health reform to increase the DPP’s reach. He also spoke about expanding the DPP to those at risk for prediabetes—and not just restricting the program to those already identified as having prediabetes.

With a small investment of $80 million from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Prevention and Public Health Fund to expand the DPP nationally, increased access to the program could potentially result in $7 billion of Medicare savings alone over the next 10 years. 

The ACA contains other provisions to increase national capacity to prevent and treat diabetes. For example, Dr. Thorpe suggested including prevention programs like the DPP in health insurance exchanges. In order to create a national prevention and treatment strategy, Dr. Thorpe also supports taking the community-based DPP, currently administered through the YMCA of the USA, and bringing it to scale nationwide.

Including the DPP as part of the Medicare beneficiary package—and other public and private health insurance programs—would be an effective tool in improving health outcomes and lowering health care spending.

NYSHealth has invested in bringing the Diabetes Prevention Program to New York and helped launch the program at YMCAs in 10 regions across the State.

View Dr. Thorpe’s slide presentation.