Academy Focuses on Diabetes
By Deb Miller, CSG Director of Health Policy
One in 12 Americans has diabetes. Among seniors, the disease affects about one in five people ages 65 to 74.
Illinois Rep. Mike Tryon is one of those Americans with diabetes. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2006, shortly after he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives.
He’ll be a speaker at a special health policy academy planned for The Council of State Governments’ National Leadership Conference in La Quinta, Calif., from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, May 18. The academy will help legislators understand what role they can play in addressing the disease.
Tryon--from Crystal Lake, north of Chicago--is a founding member of the Illinois Diabetes Caucus. When he formed the caucus, Tryon didn’t know how many of his fellow legislators would be interested in joining. But in just two years, 48 of 159 Illinois House and Senate members have joined.
“It just caught fire,” Tryon said.
The caucus has educational materials available for legislators to use at constituent events. Tryon reported 1,600 people came to one such event. ”This is good public relations. It is an example of how we as legislators can be proactive,” he said.
“Only good things can come when stakeholders come together and sit down and talk about issues,” said Tryon. “We passed the Students with Diabetes Care Act requiring every school have a trained person on staff to assist students with diabetes. It does not necessarily have to be a nurse; it can be a teacher.
“Every state in the country is facing tremendous public policy issues in the future. If (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is correct, one-third of the population will be afflicted. Already, one in three high school graduates in Illinois is obese.”
Tryon, along with both Democrats and fellow Republicans in the Illinois House of Representatives, formed the bipartisan legislative diabetes caucus in 2011. The caucus goals include:
Seek needed legislation and evaluate filed legislation that affects people with diabetes.
Promote prevention education, available treatments and public programs that assist people with diabetes.
Reach out to agencies that assist people with diabetes.
Engage in outreach efforts between the caucus, its supporting agencies and people who suffer from diabetes.
“We have seen issues on insurance coverage pop up,” Tryon said “How will the legislature make these policy decisions? The caucus is a platform to look at education and prevention issues as well as treatment.”
In addition to Tyron, legislators and advocacy leaders from Kentucky, Texas and North Carolina will speak at the CSG Diabetes Policy Academy about new policy initiatives in their states. Policy academy attendees will hear from national leaders in the field about the disease’s burden on individuals, society and the health care system. Dr. John Anderson is a primary care physician at the Frist Clinic in Nashville, Tenn., and president-elect of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. Dr. William Rowley is a senior fellow at the Institute for Alternative Futures in Washington, D.C., and Dr. Linda Siminerio is the executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute and co-chair of the American Diabetes Association Safe at School initiative.
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes. The chronic disease is the seventh-leading cause of death and the primary cause of kidney failure, nontraumatic lower-limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults across the country. Overall, the risk of premature death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people without the disease.
Annually, diabetes costs the U.S. about $116 billion in direct medical costs and $58 billion in indirect costs through disabilities, work loss and premature mortality. Medical expenses for people with diabetes are more than two times higher than for individuals without diabetes.
To register for the Diabetes Policy Academy, contact Debra Miller, CSG director of health policy, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 859-244-8241, or learn more at the National Leadership Conference website.