Date: March 27, 2008
Contact: Stephen Canzoneri, Councilman Ferrara’s Office – 516-869-7775
Gerald Petrella, Senator Schumer’s Office – 631-753-0978
SCHUMER REVEALS: DIABETES CASES SOAR NEARLY 60 PERCENT IN NASSAU AND SUFFOLK COUNTIES SINCE 2004 – UNVEILS LANDMARK DIABETES PACKAGE TO EXPAND SCREENING AND EARLY TREATMENT MEASURES
FERRARA: FIGHT AGAINST DIABETES MUST BE NON-PARTISAN
New Plan Targets Prevention First, Fights Childhood Obesity and Improves Access to Essential Medical Care Including Education and Medical Exams to Stave Off Looming Health Care and Financial Crisis
Ferrara Issues Call for Bi-partisan Effort to Provide Early Diabetes Education
A Generation at Risk in Long Island: As Almost 40% of Young Children across the Region are either Obese or Overweight, the Risk of Developing Diabetes in their Lifetime Soars
With the diabetes epidemic sweeping across Nassau and Suffolk and throughout the country, increasingly afflicting children and creating a looming health care and financial crunch, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and North Hempstead Councilman Angelo P. Ferrara today made a call to arms for the federal government to dramatically increase its role in combating the deadly disease. At least 220,000 Long Island residents currently suffer from diabetes with the percentage of adults and kids suffering from the disease doubling in the last 15 years. In Suffolk County alone, cases are up over 125 percent since 2004. Schumer will say this number will only spiral higher as an estimated 37% of local children are either obese or overweight, leaving them vulnerable to develop the debilitating disease later in life. Standing at a leading diabetes education center and joined by experts and kids suffering from diabetes, Schumer unveiled a comprehensive plan that focuses on prevention at every stage of life by expanding screening and early treatment measures, fighting childhood obesity and improving coverage for essential care measures including education and medical exams.
“For years we’ve seen a growing tidal wave of diabetes cases across Long Island, leaving too many adults and children struggling to fight a debilitating disease that carries the potential to create a regional health care and financial crisis,” Schumer said. “The key to beating back this serious problem is a two-pronged assault: we provide local residents with the preventative care and medicine needed to treat diabetes in its early stages, while encouraging exercise among adults and children so they can maintain healthy lifestyles – the cornerstone to protecting themselves from developing the disease in the first place.”
“Diabetes has no political affiliation,” added Ferrara. “Both parties in Congress must come together to pass this legislation. In some manner, diabetes affects every American. It is important for us all to pass this bill. I am happy to stand here with the senator at Winthrop Hospital where diabetes care has been at the forefront.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of the population with diabetes on Long Island has soared nearly 60 percent from 5 percent in 2004 to 7.9 percent in 2006.
There are two major types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes which most often appears during childhood and adolescence, and Type 2 diabetes which is linked to obesity and a lack of physical activity. Type 2 diabetes had been historically found in adults, but today it is increasingly being diagnosed in young adults and adolescents as obesity among these groups has spiked in recent years.
In the last two decades, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled. The disease is blamed for spurring other medical conditions and disabilities, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Diabetes afflicting adults and children in New York State and across Nassau and Suffolk Counties:
In New York State, over one million residents have been diagnosed with some form of diabetes, and it’s estimated another 450,000 residents have diabetes but have not been diagnosed with it yet. Together this accounts for a nearly 100% increase since 1994. In 2004, the New York State Medicaid program allocated an estimated $5.5 billion dollars for nearly 240,000 fee-for-service members.
Right now, according to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 7.9 percent of men and women across Nassau and Suffolk counties suffer from diabetes, or over 220,000 residents.
Among teenagers and adolescents, the numbers are staggering. An estimated one in six overweight New York children and teens are considered to have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts them at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Preliminary findings from an ongoing study by the Centers for Disease Control show that 18% of diabetes cases in juveniles are now Type 2, a stunning increase in a condition that was rarely found in children before.
Obesity among adults and children in Nassau and Suffolk:
Across Long Island, the dramatic rise in diabetes has been fueled by soaring rates in obesity among both adults and children. Residents struggling with weight issues and lacking regular exercise are more likely to contract Type 2 diabetes. In the past, Type 2 diabetes was generally associated with adults, but it is now popping up in young adults and adolescents who are overweight or obese.
Overweight and obesity rates among adult populations in counties across Nassau and Suffolk are startlingly high. According to the New York State Department of Health, well over 50 percent of residents in Nassau and Suffolk counties are obese or overweight.
For children across Long Island and the rest of New York State, obesity has become widely-prevalent in recent years. According to the New York State Department of Health, 37.8% of third graders across the state (outside of New York City) are either categorized as overweight or obese. And 27.6% of teenagers between the grades of 9 and 12 suffer from being overweight or obese.
Adolescent and teenage obesity is closely linked with the rapid increase in Type 2 diabetes in these demographics, and experts fear many Type 2 diabetes cases in children go undiagnosed because symptoms develop slowly. The dramatic spike in diabetes in children could present unforeseen health care costs to cover the long-term care of diabetes patients: in the past, the average age of diabetes diagnosis was 46.
Schumer’s Call to Arms to Fight Diabetes and Obesity across New York State:
To counter the diabetes epidemic on Long Island and across the country, Senator Schumer today argued the fundamental need for a comprehensive package of legislation and programs that fights both Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Schumer today unveiled a landmark diabetes package that expands screening and early treatment measures, fights childhood obesity and improves coverage for essential care measures including education and medical exams.
Diabetes Legislation: Schumer’s legislation would shift the federal government’s focus more toward early detection and effective treatment of diabetes by dramatically expanding access and Medicaid coverage of diabetes screening. Specifically, the legislation will:
Guarantee Medicaid coverage of diabetes screenings for patients who are at-risk.
Require Medicaid coverage of a package of diabetes services for patients who are diagnosed with diabetes. Examples of these services are diabetes education, medical nutrition, and eye and foot exams.
Provides Medicaid patients with these essential diabetes services for free by ensuring patients would not be subjected to cost-sharing requirements.
Diabetes Management Pilot Program: Schumer will work to establish a pilot program in New York where participating businesses can reduce their health care costs when providing employees with first-rate coverage for diabetes-related medications and services. The voluntary program would be modeled after the successful Asheville Project, which was developed to produce significant savings for participating employers, while giving employees top-notch access to diabetes-related medications and services. Under the Ashville Project, participating employers showed a four to one return on investment due to their employees avoiding costly hospitalizations and missed days of work by effectively managing and treating their diabetes symptoms.
Community Exercise Programs: Schumer will work to increase funding for two programs run by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which reach out to both adults and youth in fighting obesity through exercise and good nutrition: the STEPS program and the Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases (NPAO). The Steps Program provides support and funding to communities nationwide to work with both the public and private sectors in reducing the burden of obesity and diabetes. The NPAO currently works with 28 states to build lasting and comprehensive efforts to address obesity and other chronic diseases through a variety of nutrition and physical activity strategies. New York is one of seven States which is being funded at the more advanced implementation level. These more advanced States are implementing a comprehensive nutrition and physical activity state plan to prevent and control obesity and other chronic diseases.
Anti-Obesity Awareness Campaign for Children: Schumer will work to resurrect the now defunct, but once successful, VERB program which is a social marketing campaign to combat childhood obesity. Coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the campaign focuses on encouraging youth to lead healthy lifestyles and increase their physical activity by applying commercial marketing strategies to influence the voluntary behavior of target audiences to improve personal and social welfare. The successful campaign ran from 2001-2005.
Reducing Junk Food in Schools: Schumer will work to pass a provision that will update the national nutritional standards for foods and beverages sold out of vending machines, school stores, and other venues outside of the school meals programs. Supported by the public health community and by the food and beverage industry, it will ensure that healthier foods and beverages are offered for sale in schools across the country.
North Hempstead Councilman Angelo P. Ferrara (podium) asking for support of Senator Charles E. Schumer’s (far right) proposed diabetes bill as patients of Winthrop-University Hospital’s Diabetes Education Center diabetes center look on.