Diabetes stakeholders discuss how healthcare-reform law affects patients

NEW YORK — Healthcare reform has remained a major subject of debate since President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act last March, but what the law means for diabetes care was the particular focus of a conference call with diabetes stakeholders Tuesday.

The conference call, sponsored by healthcare research firm Avalere Health, discussed various provisions in the healthcare-reform law that affect patients with diabetes, including incentives for prevention of chronic disease in Medicaid, the creation of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, coverage expansion and elimination of co-payments for preventive services and immunizations.

“It’ll be interesting to see what the results of some of these initiatives are and how they affect care,” Avalere manager Kathleen Gravelle said.

Much of the discussion focused on the role of the physician, but Novo Nordisk senior director of government affairs Christopher Porter also emphasized the role of pharmacists.

“Obviously, there’s a number of places that communities and initiatives have involved pharmacists, and there have been tremendous results,” Porter said. “From our perspective, we see the pharmacist as really a key person.”

Indeed, pharmacists’ accessibility and ability to work directly with patients could be a particular asset, especially as the incidence and costs of diabetes are set to dramatically rise in the coming years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, and the cost of treating the disease, $299 billion in 2010, is expected to rise to $374 billion by 2015 and to $514 billion in 2025.

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