Diabetes, as we know, is a growing epidemic nationally and particularly in the state of Florida.
The disease affects 1.7 million people directly at a cost of $19 billion annually in our state. Fortunately, legislators in Florida are now considering House Bill 1261 and Senate Bill 1286, legislation that could make a significant difference and help nearly two million Floridians delay or avoid the often severe health complications associated with diabetes.
Currently, any person can claim that they are providing diabetes education, even if they do not have adequate training or specialized knowledge to ensure that quality care is being delivered.
HB 1261 and SB 1286 will protect individuals with diabetes and permit healthcare professionals such as nurses, dietitians, nutritionists, pharmacists, physicians, exercise physiologists, podiatrists and others who provide people with diabetes the skills they need to self-manage their disease to become Licensed Diabetes Educators.
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This legislation is critical because diabetes education has been proven to mitigate the severe complications that are associated with the disease. This allows the person with diabetes to maintain optimum health and also saves the state money.
While diabetes education is a covered benefit through Medicare and many private insurers, many people with diabetes are unfamiliar with how to manage the disease and how to seek education.
The bills have the support of the American Association of Diabetes Educators, which is advocating similar initiatives in states across the country.
We urge the Florida Legislature and the committees overseeing these pieces of legislation to move forward toward passage as quickly as possible.
We urge readers to contact their legislators and encourage them to move these bills forward.
Joyce Parrillo, Florida grass roots coordinator, American Association of Diabetes