How is it that 2007 has come and gone, and we, the Diabetes Community, have hardly heard a thing about this major piece of proposed legislation to "combat diabetes"? Or was it just me who had her head stuck in the sand?
Anyway I've been digging around for the last week or so, and have gathered all the info I could find on this sweeping bill, which is backed by a bi-partisan group of legislators as well as the American Diabetes Association. It was introduced in August by Congressman Zack Space (D-Ohio), whose son has Type 1 diabetes.
If you read over the "5 major areas" the bill addresses in the press release, you might trip over the ambiguous language like I did: the bill aims to "work toward a solution on the problem identified by the CDC ..." and so forth. I wanted to know what was meant exactly by "work toward," so I queried the ADA. Although I didn't find the bill listed at the ADA's "Advocacy Action Center," their spokes-folks tell me they do endorse the bill, and this is what it hopes to accomplish:
- H.R. 3544 calls for the establishment of a collaboration across government agencies as well asinterested outside entities with the purpose of reducing the amount of undiagnosed seniors focusing on screening methods, outreach programs, and other systems.
- The bill would establish an advisory group consisting of representatives of the public and private sector to examine and make recommendations on best practices of employee wellness and diseasemanagement programs with a report to the Secretary of Health and Human Serviceswithin one year.
- This legislation would create a biennial National Diabetes Report Card that would include preventative care practices, quality of care, risk factors, outcomes, etc.
- Additionally it would improve the collection of vital statistics for diabetes and other chronic diseases with a focus on birth and death certificates.
- Lastly, the bill would require a study reflecting the impact of diabetes on the practice of medicine, as well as analyze the level of diabetes education required for those in the medical field.
According to Congressman Space's office, this is first-of-its-kind proposed legislation.
"We are still gathering cosponsors of the bill. Presently, we have 53 from both sides of the aisle. We are hopeful that the Committee on Energy and Commerce will act on the legislation this year," Congressman Space writes to me.
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If it passes, how much will this bill's provisions cost, and where will the money come from?
"We have not received any official cost estimate at present. The bill is simply an authorizing bill, and would therefore be subject to annual appropriations," Space states.
OK, so if we're on board, what can individuals do to support it?
"Contact your Congressman. The Democratic process was created to allow ordinary citizens to reach out to Members of Congress when they see an issue or piece of legislation of importance."