October 25, 2014

Additional Information on USPSTF Pronouncement

On October 21, I received an email from the ADA promoting the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) pronouncement. While I can agree with much of what they are advocating, I am totally turned off when they label USPSTF as alphabet soup because the acronym is six letters long. To me this means that the ADA is belittling the USPSTF and does not show respect.

Then they use scare tactics by listing the serious complications that diabetes may cause supposedly to show how serious diabetes can be. If the ADA was actually calling for action and supporting the pronouncement of the USPSTF, you would think they could choose a more positive introduction. Diabetes receives enough bad publicity without the ADA adding to this.

Why they use the term Diabetes Advocates to apply to themselves is a puzzle. The email author then says, “This month our years of hard work paid off and the USPSTF recommended – for the first time – that Americans with key risk factors should be tested for diabetes. Studies show that currently more than half of people with undiagnosed diabetes are not tested because they do not meet the current diabetes screening guidelines. Now this will change!”

The author also says this matters because doctors around the country follow USPSTF recommendations. Then the email author says this is vital testing will be completely paid for by a patient's health insurance. Now this is where the two doctors I have been corresponding with have expressed caution. They both agreed that most private insurance companies may pay for the screenings, but will they pay for the follow-up appointments if the tests are positive. Medicare is the other concern as they have been in the habit of not paying.

The doctors do have a large concern about those that fall into the prediabetes range. Without the ADA making this an official classification, they feel this will still be an area that will not be covered, even with a prediabetes diagnosis.

The author of the ADA newsletter declared that the change is critical citing the estimated annual economic cost of undiagnosed diabetes is a staggering $18 billion. With this change, the 10 million Americans with undiagnosed diabetes and the 86 million with prediabetes will have a fighting chance to take action before the devastating complications of diabetes take hold, saving both lives and dollars.

The one thing that makes me hopeful – will the ADA do something about renaming prediabetes and make it an official diabetes designation? One can only hope.

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