In early November, a bill establishing the National Clinical Care Commission Act was signed into law by President Trump.
Originally written by New Hampshire Senators Susan Collins and Jeanne Shaheen, this bill is designed to improve diabetes treatment, education, research, and prevention throughout the nation.
Passing this bill wasn’t simple.
Even despite statistics from the American Diabetes Association that 30 million adults and children in the United States have diabetes and another 1.4 million are diagnosed with it every year.
“Offices on Capitol Hill were generally surprised to learn that one out of every three Medicare dollars is spent on people with diabetes,” Sara Milo, director of Legislation and Governmental Affairs at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), told Healthline.
Milo and her staff at AACE were vital to the creation of the commission.
Additionally, explained Milo, most offices didn’t realize how severely diabetes care is actually affecting the federal health programs already in place.
“The federal government was not coordinating its efforts with the 30 or more federal agencies involved in diabetes activities to make an impact on the care of people with diabetes,” she said. “There was a recognition that the current regulatory structure was not working as well as it should and it needed to be addressed.”
How the new commission is structured
The new commission of experts will be supported through existing funding already allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services.
It consists of 11 members from these federal agencies:
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
- Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Office of Minority Health (OMH)
- Indian Health Service (IHS)
- Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)
- Department of Defense (DOD)
“The commission will also include twelve private sector members representing physician specialties,” added Milo, “including clinical endocrinologists who play a role in the prevention and treatment of diabetes, primary care, non-physician healthcare professionals, such as nutrition specialists and certified diabetes educators, and patient advocates.”
The creation of this commission received support from constituents and patients in the diabetes community, largely due to efforts from the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC).
Milo said the commission, however, will still face challenges.
The commission was given three years to conduct its work.
It will need to create an operating plan with a clear enough focus that it can be carried out and accomplished in a short amount of time.
“There are so many areas where the lack of coordination among federal agencies is failing patients when it comes to access to high quality diabetes care,” explained Milo. “Eliminating the administrative burdens that can impede coverage for insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, and test strips would be a huge benefit to patients and healthcare professionals.”
The commission will also look closely at existing programs to determine which ones ought to be eliminated entirely or replaced.
That would require full agreement on which should stay and which should go.
“We want to make sure that federal resources are really making a difference for patients and providers,” Milo emphasized.
The commission will also strive to improve how the basic science of diabetes treatment and prevention is conveyed to the general public, ensuring that patients are able to understand and implement the newest diabetes-related technology and treatment plans.
Eager to see the commission begin its work, Milo expressed how grateful the AACE is for the broad support they received in passing this bill from stakeholders in the greater diabetes community and organizations like DPAC.
“We are anxious to see the commission implemented,” explained Milo, “and begin its work to put patients first and improve their access to high quality care.”