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    CMS diabetes prevention program saved money, improved health

    On March 23, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that a diabetes prevention program being tested through the Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation successfully reduced the risk for developing diabetes among participants, and resulted in a significant cost savings among a test group of Medicare beneficiaries.

    The Innovation Center, established as part of the Affordable Care Act, was designed to test “innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures … while preserving or enhancing quality of care” for patients on Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

    Under this program, CMS awarded the National Council of Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) of the United States of America more than $11.8 million to enroll Medicare beneficiaries at high risk for diabetes into a program designed to reduce their risk for developing the disease. The program was tested at 17 participating YMCAs nationwide.

    Program participants attended weekly meetings with a lifestyle coach where they learned strategies for long-term dietary change, increased physical activity, and behavior changes to control weight and risk for diabetes. After the initial weekly sessions, participants could continue to attend monthly follow-up meetings. The majority of participants were aged 65 to 74 and 61% were women.

    The YMCA program was evaluated by an independent group of experts, and the results were “striking,” according to HHS.

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