Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) along with U.S. Reps Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced the PREVENT DIABETES Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would make diabetes prevention care for those on Medicare permanent and more accessible online in order to help address widespread disparities in access to diabetes care in medically underserved communities, including Black and Latino communities and rural areas.

“As the father of a Type 1 diabetic, I know how important consistent and reliable care is for patients’ health, but too many Virginians still struggle to get the care they deserve. This legislation will save lives by expanding access to diabetes prevention programs virtually,” said Sen. Warner. 

“Too many South Carolinians in vulnerable communities are struggling to manage diabetes,” said Sen. Scott. “Our bill aims to expand access to life-saving healthcare options by opening the door to virtual suppliers. We can and must ensure everyone in the Palmetto State—regardless of race, background, or zip code—has the support they deserve to manage their healthcare needs.”  

“It is often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  This is certainly the case with patients who are at high risk for developing diabetes,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “Through enhanced education, seniors will be empowered with tools they can use to optimize their health, avoid costly complications, and enjoy a better quality of life. This commonsense legislation will facilitate improved patient outcomes and save taxpayer money.” 

“Tens of millions of Americans live with either diabetes or prediabetes,” said Rep. DeGette, Co-Chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus. “Taking on diabetes requires a comprehensive approach to stopping type 2 diabetes before its onset. Our bill makes CDC-recognized diabetes prevention programs more accessible to Medicare beneficiaries at risk of diabetes, particularly those in rural areas and others who may not be able to attend an in-person diabetes prevention program. With a growing number of patients opting for virtual care, our PREVENT DIABETES Act will help more Americans learn about how they can avoid this disease.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a higher prevalence of diabetes within minority populations. Diabetes affects 16.4% of Black adults, 14.9% percent of Asian adults, and 14.7% of Latino adults, compared to 11.9% of white adults. To expand access to diabetes prevention programs,  the PREVENT DIABETES Act would make permanent the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP), which is currently a demonstration program. The MDPP leverages evidence-based interventions to prevent the full onset of Type 2 diabetes in at-risk Medicare beneficiaries. The legislation would also make the program more accessible by allowing virtual suppliers to participate. 

In October 2019, Sens. Warner and Scott wrote to then-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging him to expand the program by administrative action. The senators wrote another letter in April of 2020, requesting that beneficiaries be allowed to access the program via a virtual platform during the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS temporarily allowed individuals to access the program via a virtual platform, but this administrative change still excludes a number of providers and does not ensure long-term access to a virtual benefit. 

As part of their efforts to craft a framework of solutions, Sens. Warner and Scott introduced the PREVENT DIABETES Act in 2020 and again in 2021. Companion legislation in the House of 
Representatives is led by Reps. Bilirakis and DeGette.

Full text of the bill is available here.