Kentucky has nation’s first statewide, comprehensive plan for diabetes prevention; 10 percent of us have the disease

Kentucky leads the way in the fight against diabetes and towards improving health for future generations of Kentuckians by becoming the first state to legislatively require a statewide, comprehensive action plan for addressing this disease epidemic.
Over 500,000 Kentuckians, 10 percent of the state’s population, are living with diabetes, costing the state about $4.8 billion a year in direct and indirect medical costs, write R. Stewart Perry and Larry Smith, co-chairs of the American Diabetes Association‘s national board of directors, in an op-ed piece in The Courier-Journal. While it hasn’t been widely reported, state policymakers recently tackled the issue.

In 2011, the General Assembly passed a law (KRS 211.752), sponsored by Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, and Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, directing the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to report every two years on the impact of diabetes on the commonwealth.  The report must include the scope of the disease, its costs and what state government is doing about it.

The law requires the Department for Medicaid Services, the Department for Public Health, the Office of Health Policy and the Personnel Cabinet to “collaborate to identify goals and benchmarks while also developing individual entity plans to reduce the incidence of diabetes in Kentucky, improve diabetes care, and control complications associated with diabetes,” Perry and Smith note.

Such reporting will encourage the development of prevention strategies that are more effective and efficient, representing an unprecedented, coordinated effort against diabetes, they write. Many other states are using Kentucky’s plan as a model for legislation. “We call on every Kentuckian to enlist in the effort to step up the fight against diabetes,” they urge.

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