U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver serves as House speaker pro tempore as the House debates articles against President Trump on Dec. 18, 2019.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday to move diabetes prevention classes online, with the hope they reach more Americans who or could have the disease.

Medicare’s Diabetes Prevention Program requires those who benefit to attend calls in person. DeGette is the co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus.

The program, free to qualifying Medicare beneficiaries, provides 16 in-person, classroom-style sessions where they are taught how to improve their diets, increase their physical exercise and make better overall health decisions to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

The Denver Democrat is sponsoring the bill with Reps. Tom Rice, R-S.C.; Tom Reed, R-N.Y,; and G.K. Butterfield, D-Calif.

DeGette said in a statement that nearly one-third of American adults either have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

“Finding ways to prevent more Americans from developing this deadly disease must remain one of our top priorities," she said in a statement. "This legislation will help us expand access to important resources and make them more available to more Americans – including our seniors, and those living in more rural areas, who may otherwise be unable to utilize them.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suspended the in-person requirement this year moved classes online temporarily because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. DeGette's bill would make that change permanent.

DeGette's office said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds more than 400,000 Coloradans have diabetes, or 6.94% of the population, compared to about 10% of the overall American population.

Rates are higher for Americans older than 65, so about one-third of Medicare dollars are spent on those with diabetes.

The Prevent Diabetes Act is supported by the American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists, The Connected Health Initiative, Endocrine Society, Healthcare Leadership Council, Livongo, Noom, National Kidney Foundation, Novo Nordisk Inc., Omada Health, and YMCA of the USA.

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