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Diabetes Briefing on Capitol Hill

Dr. Deneen Vojta and Margaret Hutchingson Join Panel Discussion

On July 26, UnitedHealth Group spearheaded and co-hosted a Diabetes briefing, Combating Diabetes and Curbing Federal Health Care Spending, with the American Diabetes Association and the Y (formerly YMCA) on Capitol Hill for lawmakers and staff on the human and economic costs associated with diabetes and prediabetes. Diabetes is afflicting Americans at a record pace. By 2020, 15 percent of American adults – about 39 million people – will have diabetes. Last year, health spending associated with diabetes and prediabetes totaled about $194 billion (seven percent of total U.S. health spending). That cost is projected to rise to $500 billion by 2020.

Research shows that type 2 diabetes is often preventable. Early detection and appropriate intervention among at-risk individuals is a key in preventing the disease. Medigap insurance – The main thrust of the briefing highlighted the critical need to identify those individuals at risk for diabetes early and to provide these individuals access to the tools they need to improve their quality of life and reduce the financial burden diabetes and its complications have on the health care system.

Specifically, the briefing focused on the proven benefits and health care cost savings resulting from the Diabetes Prevention Program, a partnership between UnitedHealth Group and the Y that has proven clinical results and is projected to significantly decrease health care costs. Briefing panelists, including UnitedHealth Group’s Diabetes and Prevention Control Alliance (DPCA) executive vice president and chief clinical officer, Deneen Vojta, M.D.; Margaret Hutchinson, a DPP participant from the Y who is an Optum employee; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Urban Institute, all highlighted DPP’s outcomes and the model’s great promise upon which the federal government should actively build. Timothy Kohler, president of DPCA, attended the briefing. He and Dr. Vojta met with congressional staff privately to discuss DPP’s financial model and the projected cost savings associated with making DPP accessible to Medicare beneficiaries. After sharing her personal story of success with the DPP, Margaret Hutchinson received tremendous applause from the audience.

The briefing was part of the UnitedHealth Group Government Affairs team’s continuing effort to collaborate with the business to advance the DPP in the government payor space and to position UnitedHealth Group as a thought leader on an important issue by generating strategic visibility opportunities.

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