8.10.16

Oregon has a lot of things going for it: great hiking trails, amazing craft breweries and, as it turns out, some of the best congressmen when it comes to advocating for the rights of people with chronic health conditions or chronic disease.

We recently covered the work done by Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District in pushing the Dialysis PATIENT Demonstration Act. This bill, which you can read about here, would better coordinate care for patients with end stage renal disease and improve their standard of living in the process.

Another incredible champion of chronic disease patients is Rep. Greg Walden, of Oregon’s 2nd Congressional District, who has taken a particular interest in combating diabetes. This session he has co-sponsored a total of four bills that would help in studying, preventing and treating the disease. These bills include:

1. The Medicare CGM Access Act would require Medicare to cover continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems. CGMs are FDA-approved devices that measure glucose levels in real time throughout the day and night. Increasing access to CGMs will ensure that seniors with diabetes have better control of their glucose levels.

2. The National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act would establish a national commission to evaluate and recommend solutions for better coordination of federal diabetes programs. By evaluating current federal efforts and providing a strategic plan, the commission will improve the way clinicians provide care for those with pre-diabetes, diabetes and the chronic diseases and complications caused by diabetes.

3. The Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act would allow certified diabetes educators to provide diabetes outpatient self-management training to Medicare beneficiaries. By increasing access to education, patients will have the ability to independently improve their health and avoid costly diabetes-related complications.

4. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act would give Medicare patients needed access to a comprehensive set of obesity services. These services would include counseling, behavioral and nutrition therapy and FDA-approved weight loss medications.

More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes. Almost 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed every year, and those that are diagnosed are disproportionately from minority populations. This is a problem that cannot go unaddressed any longer.

We are glad to see Rep. Walden give this issue the attention it deserves, and we would hope other legislators follow his example.