Diabetes is a serious disease that is taking a devastating physical and financial toll on our country. Its total annual price tag in the United States is $218 billion when you factor in the costs of diagnosed diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes.
That’s a pretty tall order, and one we take very seriously. As with any large mission, we know we’ll increase our chances for success by breaking it down into smaller, specific objectives. So each year, the Association identifies its leading public policy goals. I’d like to share with you some of the goals for 2012.
The American Diabetes Association’s 2012 federal legislative priorities include:
- Federal Funding for Diabetes Research and Programs: Despite the dismal fiscal climate, diabetes rages on. So we’ll move full steam ahead to increase federal funding dedicated to diabetes research and prevention—commensurate with the impact the disease has on our society. This includes increasing funding for programs at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reauthorizing the Special Diabetes Programs that funds type 1 diabetes research and programs in Native American and Alaska Native communities.
- Health Reform – Defense and Implementation: The Association will defend the recent federal health care reform against attempts to repeal or weaken it and ensure it is implemented in ways that best meet the needs of people with diabetes and prediabetes. While this legislation is not perfect, it does include many new tools in the fight to stop diabetes and protects people with diabetes in fundamental ways.
- Health Disparities: Because minority populations are disproportionately affected by diabetes, we’ll support legislation with the goal of eliminating health disparities and improving diabetes research, treatment and education in those populations.
- Health Entitlement Programs: We’ll work to protect and expand Medicare and Medicaid to make sure they meet the needs of the more than 14 million people living with diabetes covered by these programs.
The American Diabetes Association’s 2012 state legislative priorities include:
- Discrimination Issues: Our Safe at School campaign ensures students with diabetes are medically safe and have access to the same educational opportunities as their peers. The Association also opposes laws and policies with one-size-fits all treatment of people with diabetes, including private driver’s licenses.
- Prevention: Our focus will be on primary prevention of type 2 diabetes, including nutrition and physical activity. An aggressive agenda is needed to tackle this growing epidemic.
- Research and Surveillance: We’ll support funding for public health programs that monitor diabetes prevalence, implement and evaluate diabetes interventions and promote public awareness about diabetes. We’ll also support proposals that enhance funding for stem cell research in accordance with ethical standards.
In addition, the Association will redouble our efforts to give voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes through our legal advocacy efforts. We’ll use education, negotiation and—when those don’t work—litigation and legislation to protect workers who are kept out of jobs because of their diabetes, children who aren’t safe at school and people with diabetes who face discrimination anywhere from a restaurant to a plane to a prison. In 2012, we will focus on employment in the federal government, our Safe at School campaign and getting the word out to the nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes that if they are treated unfairly, the American Diabetes Association is here to help.
All of our voices need to be heard. Become an advocate! Every letter you write, every phone call you place helps make it impossible for Congress and state legislatures to ignore the urgent need to stop diabetes. We’ll help you craft a message to your local representatives based on what’s happening now in the political arena. Sign up for our advocacy action alerts for late-breaking developments.
I sincerely thank all the Association volunteers and staff who are a part of ending this epidemic through advocacy. It’s going to be a great year!
National Chair, Advocacy Committee, American Diabetes Association