Endocrine Society Recommends Bipartisan Solutions to Senate HELP Hearing on Diabetes, Obesity

The Endocrine Society commends the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee for calling attention to the issues that are fueling the diabetes epidemic in its December 14’s hearing and urges the Committee to support bipartisan legislation to begin to address the crisis in our country.

More than 38 million Americans have diabetes, and while we have the medications and technologies to treat people living with the disease, access and affordability remain an issue. Obesity, which is a major risk factor for diabetes, affects more than 40 percent of Americans. There are several promising anti-obesity medications available, but supply and cost are major roadblocks, and congressional action is needed to allow Medicare to cover these medications.

“It’s time for Congress to take action and pass legislation to help the millions of people with chronic conditions, including diabetes and obesity, by making their healthcare more affordable and accessible, and by supporting the diabetes research and prevention programs that have been crucial in our fight against this disease,” said the Chair of the Society’s Clinical Affairs Core Committee Joshua Joseph, MD, MPH, of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. “The Endocrine Society has long advocated to remediate the access and affordability issues that are contributing to the diabetes and obesity epidemics while strengthening the programs that deliver groundbreaking research on diabetes. People with diabetes and obesity deserve access to affordable healthcare that will improve their quality of life.”

The Endocrine Society urges Congress to support the following bipartisan legislation to address the diabetes crisis in our country:

  • Reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program (SDP) before January 19—SDP is a bipartisan program created in 1997 that funds critical research being done on type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes education and treatment programs for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Endocrine Society urges Congress to reauthorize SDP through the end of 2025 at $170 million per program, per year, which is a 13% increase in current funding.
  • Pass the bipartisan INSULIN Act of 2023—This legislation, introduced by the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), includes several policies to make insulin more affordable. It would expand the $35 insulin co-pay cap, which is currently available for people on Medicare, to the private insurance market. The legislation would also ensure that people who rely on insulin are able to share in insulin rebates and discounts, which often go to pharmacy benefit managers and private insurers. Finally, the legislation would promote competition by encouraging the approval of more generic and biosimilar insulins.
  • Pass the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA)—There are groundbreaking Food and Drug Administration-approved medications on the market to treat obesity, and scientific studies have shown these medications are effective. Currently, however, Medicare is prohibited by statute from covering these anti-obesity medications, and congressional action is needed. TROA would allow Medicare to cover anti-obesity medications. We urge the Senate to pass this bipartisan legislation.