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Medicare diabetes prevention program struggles at launch

The rollout of the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, a major new benefit that could help millions of people, is getting off to a rocky start, according to interviews with nearly a dozen experts (Source: “New Medicare Perk For Diabetes Prevention Stumbles At Rollout,” Kaiser Health News, April 19, 2018).

Several weeks ago Medicare launched an initiative to prevent seniors and people with serious disabilities from developing Type 2 diabetes, one of the most common and costly medical conditions in the U.S.

In all but a few locations, experts said, Medicare’s new prevention program — a yearlong series of classes about healthy eating, physical activity and behavioral change for people at high risk of developing diabetes — isn’t up and running yet. And there’s no easy way (no phone number or website) to learn where it’s available.

In a first for Medicare, community organizations such as YMCAs and senior centers will run the program, not doctors and hospitals. But many sites are struggling with Medicare’s contracting requirements and are hesitant to assume demanding administrative responsibilities, said Brenda Schmidt, acting president of the Council for Diabetes Prevention and chief executive officer of Solera Health, a company that assembles provider networks.