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Assembly Panel OKs Conaway & Pinkin Bill Requiring Medicaid to Cover Diabetes Education for Patients

An Assembly panel recently advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway and Nancy Pinkin to educate Medicaid patients on diabetes and pre-diabetes care.

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in New Jersey, nearly 2,000 deaths each year, according the New Jersey Department of Health website. Approximately 700,000 state residents have diabetes.

“The financial costs and suffering caused by diabetes are increasing rapidly in New Jersey and nationwide,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “By teaching residents how to take care of themselves, we help them understand how to manage their diabetes and live well.”

The sponsors note that diabetes self management training can reduce the costs and suffering associated with the disease by providing tips for eating healthy, being active, monitoring blood sugar, taking medication properly, and reducing risk.

“Self-management education programs have helped patients’ lower extremity amputations rates, reduce medication costs, and have the need for fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Education will save more lives in New Jersey as well as help residents’ coping with diabetes live their best lives.”

The bill (A-3460) would require the state Medicaid program to cover expenses for diabetes self-management education for persons with diabetes and pre-diabetes, which would include information on proper diet.

Under the bill, benefits provided for self-management education would be limited to visits medically necessary upon the diagnosis of diabetes or pre-diabetes; upon diagnosis by a physician or nurse practitioner/clinical nurse specialist of a significant change in the recipient’s symptoms or conditions which necessitate changes in that person’s self-management; and upon the determination that reeducation or refresher education is necessary.

The measure also would require that diabetes self-management education be provided by a dietician registered by nationally recognized professional association of dieticians, a health care professional recognized as a Certified Diabetes Educator by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, or a registered pharmacist in the state qualified with regard to management education for diabetes by any institutions recognized by the board of pharmacy of the state.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.