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City Councilors Nancy White, RN, Charles Jones, and Ed DeFore Launch Medicare Diabetes Screening Project in Macon
Date:3/24/2009

Need Is Urgent; Among Seniors with Diabetes, Half Are Unaware; Medicare's Free Diabetes Screening Benefits Underutilized

MACON, Ga., March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- City Councilors Nancy White, RN, Charles Jones, and Ed DeFore, and other city and community leaders, today urged all Macon area seniors to learn more about their personal risk for diabetes, as they launched the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project (MDSP) in Macon before a crowd gathered in front of Macon City Hall. On a national level, the MDSP is co-chaired by the American Diabetes Association, the Health Care Leadership Council, and Novo Nordisk, and is supported by more than 20 organizations representing the interests of seniors and health care providers.

"Today, I am proud to announce the start of the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project in Macon," said Councilor White. "When diabetes is undiagnosed and untreated, it can be devastating, and new government statistics show that our senior citizens are especially vulnerable. That's why it is crucial that we create awareness of the benefits that Medicare offers for diabetes screening, and motivate our seniors to ask their health care providers about being tested for diabetes."

According to a study in the February 2009 issue of Diabetes Care, 32% of adults ages 65 and older have diabetes. What's more, almost half (46%) of those seniors with diabetes don't know they have it -- they have not been diagnosed.

In addition to those with diabetes, another 40% of adults ages 65 and older have pre-diabetes, putting them at very high risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, and it is likely that most of them are unaware of their status.

Since 2005, Medicare has offered benefits for diabetes screening, but usage of these benefits has been minimal. For people who are ages 65 and older and have one risk factor for diabetes, Medicare offers a free diabetes-screening test in a health care provider's office, with no deductible and no co-pay. If seniors are found to have pre-diabetes, they are eligible for another free screening in six months.

To encourage use of these benefits, the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project was conceived and launched in 2007 in Columbus, Georgia. City and community leaders in Columbus developed a model for public awareness and outreach, and that model is being adopted for implementation here in Macon.

"Macon city leaders immediately saw the need for the Project," said Geri Ward, Director, Middle Georgia Area Agency on Aging, "and they have quickly developed ideas and networks for reaching out to seniors and their health care providers with messages of what Medicare offers for diabetes screening. Our agency is proud to support the city's efforts."

Currently planned activities include outreach to Macon primary care physicians and their office managers, to inform them of the MDSP and the Medicare diabetes screening benefits; educational seminars at local senior centers; outreach to members of the public via the faith-based community; and public service announcements.

Today's event at the Macon City Council building occurred on the day that the American Diabetes Association celebrates the American Diabetes Alert, a one-day call-to-action for learning about the risk factors for diabetes. For more information about the Alert, and to take an online risk assessment quiz, visit the American Diabetes Association's web site at www.diabetes.org/alert.

The most currently-available estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 651,000 adults in the state of Georgia have diabetes, with 215,000 of them being ages 65 and older. The CDC also estimates that 11.6% of all adults ages 20 and older in Bibb County have diabetes, one of the highest rates for diabetes in the state of Georgia.

The Medicare Diabetes Screening Project in Macon is a community-based effort to reach and motivate seniors who have undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes, and encourage them to see their doctors or other health care providers, and take advantage of the free diabetes screening benefits offered by Medicare. To learn more, visit www.screenfordiabetes.org.


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SOURCE The Medicare Diabetes Screening Project
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