More people with diabetes would have access to credentialed diabetes educators to assist with daily management of the disease, under a new bill introduced in the U.S. House.
The bill, H.R. 1726, known as The Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act of 2015, would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to recognize credentialed diabetes educators as providers of diabetes education services, including telehealth services, under part B of the Medicare program.
“The goal of the bill is really to expand access,” Charles MacFarlane, chief executive officer of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, told Endocrine Today. “There are many patients that don’t have access to diabetes education for a variety of reasons, but one (reason) we believe can be fixed by making credentialed diabetes educators recognized providers of diabetes education by CMS. Currently, they are not one of the recognized groups, which was a glitch in the original bill that we’ve been trying to fix for many years.”
Diabetes education is a covered benefit under Medicare, but Medicare does not currently recognize credentialed diabetes educators as diabetes education providers, according to CMS. The result, MacFarlane said, leaves many people with diabetes without access to quality self-management training, putting them at a greater risk for diabetes-related complications.
“By having more educators recognized, we believe that we can expand the number of sustainable programs and get access to diabetes education to a number of patient groups, oftentimes the underserved, because there are just not programs that are available in some of the more rural or underserved communities,” MacFarlane said.
Credentialed diabetes educators are defined as state licensed or registered health professionals with additional educational credentialing in diabetes. The bill makes “CDE” a statutory term in Medicare, and it applies to all disciplines. The legislation would allow all diabetes educators who have a CDE to be recognized, rather than having to rely on being recognized through other disciplines such as nurses, physicians or physicians, MacFarlane said.
U.S. Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced the legislation, which was referred to the House Ways and means Committee March 26.
Designating credentialed diabetes educators as recognized providers of self-management training will make it easier for more educators to operate Medicare-certified programs and deliver services to more patients.
“We think it creates opportunities for our members, but more importantly, it creates access for the patients,” MacFarlane said. “So we have worked with the diabetes caucus for a number of years trying to get this bill passed.” – by Regina Schaffer