CMS targets $180 million in Medicare diabetes savings

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Diabetes is a costly concern in long-term care, and federal officials hope that an innovation project can lead to cutting almost $200 million off the tab.

In a blog posted Monday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma implored providers to take part in her agency's expanded diabetes prevention initiative. The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, or MDPP, involves deploying community health workers to help empower beneficiaries who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They do so through health coaching and to help with changing behaviors and weight control.

More than 25% of America's seniors have type 2 diabetes, Verma said. MDPP services, she added, are available to beneficiaries without a referral or copayment.

“Diabetes exerts an unacceptable toll on our beneficiaries, their families and the Medicare program, which spends more than $104 billion every year treating patients with this preventable disease,” Verma wrote. “The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program is leveraging innovation to bring valuable preventive services to our beneficiaries, and I urge eligible organizations across the country to enroll today in this exciting performance-based payment opportunity.”

The MDPP has shown early success at 17 test sites, prompting CMS to make this its first preventive services model test to expand nationally. In that initial test, about 45% of beneficiaries hit their 5% weight loss target. With the expansion, community-based organizations can enroll as Medicare suppliers, in addition to the traditional healthcare providers. CMS estimates that the model could save the Medicare program more than $180 million by keeping individuals healthy and avoiding future diabetes cases.