A bill that would require the state Department of Health to develop a diabetes action plan was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Christie.
“Diabetes is a serious chronic disease that is now considered a national public health crisis,” said the measure's sponsor, New Jersey state Asw. Nancy F. Muñoz, who noted that the disease now affects more than 9 percent of the adult population in New Jersey. “This legislation will provide individuals who have diabetes as well as state officials with the tools they need to combat this very serious disease.”
Improving food choices and increasing physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in people at high risk for diabetes, said Muñoz, a registered nurse.
“It’s alarming that nearly one-third of people with diabetes are undiagnosed,” she said. “In order to educate citizens in our state about this potentially life-threatening disease, this course of action is essential.”
Under the new law, the DOH, in consultation with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Children and Families, must develop an action plan to reduce the impact of diabetes in New Jersey. The plan is to identify goals and benchmarks related to reducing the incidence of diabetes in New Jersey, improving diabetes care, and controlling complications associated with diabetes.
Twice each year, the SOH will be required report to the governor and Legislature on:
- the financial impact of diabetes on each department;
- the benefits of implemented programs and activities aimed at controlling or preventing diabetes;
- the level of coordination among the departments on activities, programmatic activities, and messaging related to the management, treatment, or prevention of all forms of diabetes and its complications;
- the development or revision of a detailed action plan for preventing and controlling diabetes, pre-diabetes, and complications related to diabetes, with a range of actionable items for consideration by the Legislature; and
- the development of a detailed budget blueprint identifying needs, costs, and resources required to implement the detailed action plan.
In New Jersey, an estimated 596,000 adults have been diagnosed with the disease, an increase from 6.8 percent in 2004 to 9.2 percent in 2010, according to the national Centers for Disease Control. Across the U.S., the number of people with diabetes has more than tripled in the past two decades. As of 2010, nearly 26 million—more than 8 percent of the country's population—had diabetes. The CDC estimates that if current trends continue, as many as one in three adults could have diabetes by 2050.
Muñoz also noted that in addition to the physical trauma the disease can cause an individual, including kidney failure, amputations of the legs and feet and blindness, the health care costs associated with it are astronomical. According to the CDC, in 2006, the total cost of treating people with diabetes in New Jersey was estimated at around $5.8 billion. The national cost in 2007 exceeded $174 billion.
“The health of an individual is our primary concern, however, the financial impact of treating this disease cannot be ignored,” she stated. “This is a battle we must fight and certainly can win.”