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National Council on Aging and Medicare Diabetes Screening Project Launch New Program to Educate Seniors about Medicare's Benefits for Diabetes Screening
Date:6/18/2009

Daschle and Others Call the Need Urgent; Among Seniors with Diabetes, Half Are Unaware; Medicare's Free Diabetes Screening Benefits Underutilized

WASHINGTON, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a meeting today sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project (MDSP), former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, experts in diabetes research and education, and representatives of senior-serving organizations from a four-state area gathered in Washington, DC to draw attention to the need for increased screening for diabetes among older adults ages 65 and older insured by Medicare.

"Diabetes is a major health threat for seniors and a driver in escalating Medicare costs," said Daschle. "Screening and early diagnosis are critical to managing diabetes effectively and to prevent the onset of the disease for those at risk. And yet, less than 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are screened annually for diabetes, even though Medicare offers a free diabetes screening benefit. We have to do better."

"When diabetes is undiagnosed and untreated, it can be devastating, and new government statistics show that older adults are especially vulnerable," said Nancy Whitelaw, Senior Vice President and Director, Center for Healthy Aging of NCOA. "That's why it is crucial that we create awareness of the benefits that Medicare offers for diabetes screening, and coach our seniors to ask their health care providers about being tested for diabetes, and if diagnosed, take up ways to improve their self-management of this dangerous disease."

According to a study in the February 2009 issue of Diabetes Care, led by one of today's speakers, Catherine Cowie, PhD, of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), 32% of adults ages 65 and older have diabetes. What's more, almost half of those seniors with diabetes (46%) don't know they have it -
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SOURCE National Council on Aging
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