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With this series we will bring you the latest news in insurance and access to care. This week we cover virtual diabetes prevention programs, the rapid increase in ACA Marketplace enrollment, and Biden's approach to the Affordable Care Act. 

For more news in diabetes advocacy and policy, check out our compiled news updates here

 

Telehealth supporters are advocating for access to virtual diabetes prevention programs

Advocacy organizations and policymakers are advocating for virtual access to the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP). The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value of using telehealth for diabetes healthcare and prevention. Despite years of mounting pressure to add telehealth to the MDPP, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not considered virtual diabetes prevention as an adequate alternative to in-person care. 

Why it matters: Access to typical in-person diabetes prevention programs has been limited during the pandemic. The Alliance for Connected Care drafted a letter stating that “CMS must act immediately to preserve access to these services.” An estimated 5.2 million Medicare Part B beneficiaries were eligible for the MDPP in 2020. Access to virtual MDPPs would help more Americans access vital resources to prevent type 2 diabetes. 

What you can do: Look here for some other ways telehealth can continue after the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Millions of Americans enroll in the ACA marketplace in 2021 as CMS dedicates $80 million for the 2022 enrollment period

Over 12 million Americans have been enrolled in the ACA insurance marketplace during the 2021 open enrollment period. That is a 5% increase from 2020 marketplace enrollment. CMS will also dedicate $80 million to outreach and education programs that will encourage eligible Americans to enroll for health insurance in 2022. 

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act has helped to drastically expand insurance coverage in the US. Before the ACA was passed in 2010, 33 percent of low income Americans with diabetes were uninsured. After the ACA took effect, only 6 percent of low income adults were uninsured. However, millions of Americans still lack health insurance even though 63% of uninsured Americans are eligible for ACA coverage. 

What you can do: Look here for more information on how the COVID relief package helps people access health insurance.

 

Implications for the Affordable Care Act under the Biden Administration

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has drastically increased access to healthcare in the US. While some policymakers want to expand the law, others consider it unconstitutional and are working to repeal the law. The Biden administration has worked to create incremental changes to expand the ACA - such as health insurance support in the most recent COVID-19 relief package. However, the pandemic has taken priority over implementing more drastic healthcare changes.

Why it matters: Expanding the ACA could help uninsured and underinsured people with diabetes access affordable health insurance and help to prevent diabetes for those at risk for the disease. Biden’s commitment to reduce ACA premiums and increase ACA access in states that have not expanded Medicaid are both feasible goals for his tenure as President. However, the administration’s plan to introduce a public option and reduce the Medicare eligibility age may be out of reach.