Save money, lives with prevention

Daily Editorial Board

Pre-diabetics across the United States could soon benefit from a Diabetes Prevention Program originally sponsored by Sen. Al Franken, DFL.
Sylvia Matthews Burwell, U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, said last week that the Obama administration wants to expand the program, which prevented diabetes in 70 percent of patients who participated in its pilot phase. The program saved Medicare $2,600 for each patient enrolled, and it could save millions of dollars annually once it’s expanded. 
Franken says he first took note of the Diabetes Prevention Program when the St. Paul YMCA drew 2,300 people to participate in it. Participating patients lost an average of five pounds, which was enough to prevent them from developing a disease that can affect its sufferers permanently. 
About 30 million Americans struggle with diabetes. In total, the disease kills hundreds of thousands every year, and it costs taxpayers billions of dollars. 
We commend Sen. Franken for sponsoring the Diabetes Prevention Program, an initiative which saves both lives and money. A prevention initiative as successful as this one exemplifies smart policy, and we are excited to hear the program will soon benefit more people. 
Although tens of millions of Americans are pre-diabetic, many don’t realize it. Therefore, in order to maximize the number of people who benefit from the program, we encourage the federal government to develop outreach and awareness programs to inform people of the signs of pre-diabetes and encourage them to seek treatment.