CORNING - Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, held a discussion with Guthrie Hospital Staff, diabetes patients and others regarding diabetic issues Wednesday as he plans to introduce a bill in the House soon to address patient access to diabetic training.
Reed said the bill, called the Diabetes Self Management Training Bill, aims to make Diabetes Self Management Training (DSMT) - a program offered through medicare - “more accessible” for patients who qualify under medicare.
Despite the upcoming bill, the roundtable implied there’s still more to be done to improve treatment and quality of life for those living with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2.
Members of the roundtable showed concern regarding the costs and availability of diabetic treatment.
“We talked about cost of insulin, and cost of devices and strips,” said Dr. Frederick Bloom, President of Guthrie Medical Group. “I think cost of health insurance is an issue as well, and access to health insurance.”
“But also access to healthcare, not just for diabetics, but pre-diabetics and people who may not currently qualify for healthcare, but if they were getting healthcare, could prevent the onset of especially type 2 diabetes.”
“Some of the biggest challenges for people are medication coverage,” said Dr. Kathleen Hallinan with Internal Medicine at Guthrie.
Reed inquired about the effectiveness of telemedicine to help treat diabetes and offer better access to treatment, especially in rural areas.
“I think telemedicine has a huge opportunity to be able to serve a community in a new way and take advantage of technology,” Bloom said.
While there exists potential for growth in telemedicine, some members of the panel found the method slightly restrictive, and highlighted that some patients - particularly older patients - may prefer to see their doctors face-to-face.
MORE AWARENESS NEEDED
Reed said more awareness needs to be diverted toward these issues and others discussed during the roundtable to improve treatment and care in the diabetes community.
“There’s been great advancements when it comes to treating diabetes, but there’s still a lot of risk associated with it,” he said. “Loss of limbs; loss of eyesight. And the more we can raise that awareness, the better people are going to be in the long run, and the better they’re going to get access to healthcare.”
Reed said he intends to incorporate some of the input he received Wednesday into the bill he’s preparing for the house, particularly regarding follow up training for DSMT following the initial session.
Reed co-chairs the Congreesional Caucus on Diabetes alongside Rep. Diane DeGette, D-CO.