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AHIP, CDC to partner on diabetes prevention

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced they will work together to implement the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a program aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes in people identified as having prediabetes.

The four-year program will be launched in the states of Florida, Texas, New Mexico and New York with the help of four AHIP member plans Florida Blue, Aetna, Molina Health and EmblemHealth.

"Health plans have a long-standing commitment to preventing type 2 diabetes and its related risk factors through innovative and collaborative efforts with community partners," said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of AHIP, in a press release announcing AHIP's participation. "AHIP and its member health plans are excited to work with the CDC to implement the National DPP in communities across the country. Our shared goal is to identify successful models for prevention and wellness across the entire healthcare system."

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Diabetes is an all-too-common disease that's costing the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Based on a 20-year actuarial study by global consulting company Milliman, total healthcare spending attributable to type 2 diabetes totaled $340 billion in 2011. Nearly 22 million have type 2 diabetes and its prevalence is expected to increase by 46 percent to nearly 32 million by 2031, according to Milliman.

The CDC estimates that roughly 79 million Americans – or 35 percent of all people over the age of 20 – have prediabetes, a condition marked by elevated blood sugar levels that can often lead to type 2 diabetes within a few years. The National DPP Program seeks to stem the increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes by working at the community level to provide lifestyle coaching to people with prediabetes.

Participants taking part in the lifestyle program as part of the DPP are coached to make modest changes in their every day habits including their choice of foods and are encouraged to increase their physical activity to 150 minutes per week. According to information on the CDC website, on average, participants in the program lose between 5 percent and 7 percent of their body weight and reduce the risk of participants of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.

AHIP and its participating health plans join previous national partners UnitedHealth and YMCA. The National DPP encourages the collaboration among a wide range of public and private entities including federal agencies, employers, community organizations, academia and healthcare professionals among others.

In 2012, CDC has made more than $6.5 million in grants to a range of organizations as a means of expanding the reach of the program. Other funded organizations participating in the National DPP include the American Association for Diabetes Educators (AADE), Black Women's Health Imperative, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and OptumHealth Care Solutions.

The program is working to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes on four fronts:

  • Training a workforce to deliver the evidence-based lifestyle change program for people at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Creating a diabetes prevention recognition program that assures organizations are delivering an evidence-based lifestyle change program that meets the standardized reporting data requirements as outlined by the CDC.
  • Establishing intervention sites where participants in the evidence-based lifestyle change program meet with their trained lifestyle coaches.
  • Promoting health marketing activities that are designed to increase the number of evidence-based lifestyle change program intervention sites across the country; encourage healthcare providers to refer persons at high risk for type 2 diabetes to these programs; and raise awareness among persons at high risk for type 2 diabetes to encourage them enroll in the DPP.

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