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Mayor Reed Urges Older Adults in Atlanta to Get Screened for Diabetes

ATLANTA, March 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Mayor Kasim Reed today urged the citizens of Atlanta, especially those ages 65 and older, to learn more about diabetes and its risk factors and get screened for this very serious disease.  The Mayor joined with other city and community leaders and more than 100 seniors at Big Bethel Village to help launch the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project on American Diabetes Association Alert Day.

"Diabetes strikes hard here in Atlanta, affecting far too many of us, especially people of color and our older adults," said Mayor Reed.  "But did you know there's a lot of good news?  Diabetes can often be prevented, or if you find out you have diabetes and take care of yourself, you can greatly improve your chances of living a long and healthy life.  But first you have to get tested and see where you stand."

Getting tested for diabetes by taking advantage of Medicare's free diabetes screening benefits is the central message of the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project (MDSP).  Co-chaired by the American Diabetes Association, the Healthcare Leadership Council, and Novo Nordisk, the MDSP is now launching in Atlanta after successfully working since 2007 in Columbus, Savannah, and other cities in Georgia.

The need for this project is great.  Overall, among adults ages 65 and older, 32 percent have diabetes, and about half of them are undiagnosed.(1) Moreover, another 40 percent have pre-diabetes(1), a condition in which blood glucose levels are above normal, but not yet in the range for diabetes, and when there may still be time to prevent or delay disease onset.  When these statistics are applied to older adults in Medicare in Georgia, it is estimated that there are more than 100,000 older adults with undiagnosed diabetes and more than 300,000 with pre-diabetes.  In Atlanta alone, there are more than 30,000 with undiagnosed diabetes and more than 80,000 with pre-diabetes.(2)

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, who joined Mayor Reed at today's event, reinforced the importance of finding those in Medicare with undiagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes.  "I've seen close-up the devastation that diabetes can cause, and I know it doesn't have to happen," said Councilman Bond, who is also a volunteer for the American Diabetes Association.  "That's why asking your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes is such an important first step on the road to better health."

Dr. Renard Murray, Regional Administrator of the Atlanta office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, followed Councilman Bond and provided background and details on the preventive health benefits offered by Medicare, with emphasis on those related to diabetes.  He explained that for adults ages 65 and older, who have one additional risk factor for diabetes, Medicare offers free screening for diabetes in a doctor's office or other clinical setting.  If beneficiaries are screened and learn they have pre-diabetes, they can be re-screened in six months time.

Also on hand at today's event was Ken Mitchell, State Director, AARP Georgia, who spoke of AARP's health and wellness activities and his organization's interest in and commitment to informing older adults about the risk factors for diabetes.

Michael Gault, Senior Executive Director of the American Diabetes Association's Atlanta Region, explained the history of his organization's Alert Day and how it has served to literally wake up many people to the need to do something about diabetes.  "We are proud to be a co-chair of the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project, and I believe Diabetes Alert Day is the perfect time to launch this vital effort to help our seniors improve their health," said Mr. Gault.

Mr. Gault also explained that his organization is holding its American Diabetes Association EXPO at the Georgia World Congress Center this coming Saturday, March 27, 2010, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  He invited the people of Atlanta to join the movement to Stop Diabetes™ by visiting EXPO Atlanta, where there are ample opportunities to learn how to live healthy, be active and help change the future of diabetes.  Free health screenings will be available and attendees can get the information they need to better manage and prevent diabetes and its complications.

At the conclusion of today's event, Maurice Madden, the Georgia Director of the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project (MDSP), provided representatives of each of the 42 senior centers in Atlanta with a tool kit and materials for spreading the word about Medicare's diabetes screening benefits.  This is one example of how the MDSP is working with city officials, senior centers, churches, and other community-based organizations to promote use of Medicare's benefits for diabetes screening.  Mr. Madden and the MDSP will also attend EXPO Atlanta this coming Saturday.  Already planned for November is a faith-based initiative to distribute MDSP information in churches during American Diabetes Month.

Following the speakers at today's event, pharmacists from Kroger Pharmacy offered diabetes risk assessments and counseling.  These health professionals donated their time to interact with the seniors at the event, assess their risk for diabetes, and encourage them to take the appropriate next steps to improve their health.

The Medicare Diabetes Screening Project in Atlanta 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

(1) Cowie, PhD, Catherine C. et al, "Full Accounting of Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes in the US Population in 1988-1994 and 2005-2006," Diabetes Care, 32: 287-294, 2009.  (

(2) Mathematica Policy Research analysis of CMS State/County Market Penetration Files, July 2008, at  (Web page: Prevalence percentages from Dr. Cowie's study were applied to the numbers of adults ages 65 and older in Medicare from Mathematica's analysis.

SOURCE Medicare Diabetes Screening Project

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SOURCE Medicare Diabetes Screening Project
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