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Health

Indiana Developed Diabetes Prevention Program Eligible For Medicare Expansion

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Alex E. Proimos
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/

A diabetes prevention program developed in Central Indiana is the first preventative care program eligible for Medicare expansion. The initiative is now being offered at YMCAs across the country.

The model for the The Diabetes Prevention Program was developed by Dr. David Marrero, a researcher at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Eligibility for Medicare expansion is a win he’s been waiting for.

"We finally achieved what we set out to do more than thirteen years ago which was to create a policy change in how health care treats diabetes prevention," he says.

Marrero and a colleague had the idea to test the program at the YMCA in Fishers and in Indianapolis back in 2008.

A few years later, a study began at 17 YMCAs across the country with nearly  $12 million dollars in funding from the Affordable Care Act.

It’s now proven to be cost effective, spurring federal health officials to certify it for Medicare expansion. 

The program includes weekly group sessions about lifestyle and behavior changes that promote healthy eating and exercise.

It’s resulted in an average 5 percent body weight loss and an estimated savings of $2,650 for each enrollee.

YMCA of Greater Indianapolis Associate Director of Health Partnership Programs Chelsy Winters says the potential move under the Medicare umbrella will increase the program's reach.

"What it likely will mean, that for Medicare beneficiaries who are pre-diabetic, a portion or all of this program will be covered as a benefit under their insurance coverage," she says.

Winters says early research indicated the program was having a positive impact.

"The folks who went through the lifestyle education were 58 percent less likely to develop diabetes in the three years post study," she says.

About 89 million Americans are pre-diabetic but only 10 percent are aware of their condition.

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