On July 21st New Jersey took a critical step forward in its fight against type 2 diabetes when Governor Chris Christie signed Assembly Bill 2993 into law. Under the new law, New Jersey’s Medicaid program will be able to provide low-income residents with access to key diabetes management and prevention services, including diabetes self-management education (DSME), the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP), medical nutrition therapy (MNT), and expenses for related supplies and equipment. Passage of the law establishes New Jersey as a national leader in diabetes prevention by making it one of the first states to provide widespread Medicaid coverage of the diabetes prevention program (a step also taken by Montana, and, just recently, California).
“The financial costs and suffering caused by diabetes are increasing rapidly in New Jersey and nationwide,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr., one of eight lead sponsors on the bill. As of 2015, more than 626,000 New Jersey residents were living with diabetes—roughly 8 percent of the population. As a result, diabetes is the eighth leading cause of death for New Jerseyans.
Under Assembly Bill 2993, state officials are now equipped with important new tools to address these statistics. Research has shown that the NDPP, a multi-week lifestyle change program for individuals at risk for developing diabetes, can reduce the incidence of diabetes among high-risk individuals by as much as 58%. Similarly, DSME teaches diabetics the skills they need to manage their condition. By utilizing these skills, patients are better able to control their blood glucose levels, thereby reducing their risk of dangerous and costly complications.
“The passage of Assembly Bill 2993 is a true victory for individuals living with or at-risk for diabetes in New Jersey,” said Robert Greenwald, Clinical Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School, which worked with New Jersey stakeholders to highlight the need to improve access to these services in The 2014 New Jersey State Report: Providing Access to Healthy Solutions. “By providing access to a more comprehensive package of disease prevention, treatment, and management services, states like New Jersey are raising the bar for diabetes care in state Medicaid programs. It’s an exciting moment for diabetes advocates, and we’re hopeful that it is just the start of a broader trend in coverage across the country.”
To move forward in implementing the bill, the State Commissioner of Human Services is required to seek any necessary Medicaid State Plan Amendments or waivers from the federal government within 180 days.
For more information on CHLPI’s Providing Access to Healthy Solutions (PATHS) initiative, please visit http://www.diabetespolicy.org/.