Washington, D.C. – Following a bipartisan push from U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, the government funding bill will include the full two-year reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program, which includes funding for Type 1 Diabetes research and the Diabetes Program for Indians. This extension will provide a total of $600 million dollars combined for the two programs over a two-year period; each program will receive $150 million in FY 2018 and $150 million in FY 2019 for a total of $300 million for each program over the two-year period. Last September, Senators Collins and Shaheen led a letter signed by 75 Senators recognizing the importance of this essential program and urging Senate leaders to extend it.
This extension supports the livelihood, health, and well-being of the more than 30 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes and the additional 84 million diagnosed with prediabetes.
“Since we started the Senate Diabetes Caucus in 1997, funding for diabetes research has more than tripled from $319 million in 1997 to more than a billion dollars this past year. As a result, we have seen encouraging developments in the management, treatment, and potential cures for Type 1 diabetes,” said Senator Collins. “These groundbreaking, life-changing discoveries were made possible by the essential Special Diabetes Program. We have also seen significant reductions in diabetic eye disease, kidney failure, and other complications related to Type 2 diabetes in American Indian populations due to the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. Our continued investment will help to continue vital large-scale trials, advance next steps in research, and reach Native populations to change the course of disease.”
This past week, Senator Collins met with the leaders of each of Maine’s tribes, including the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, and Passamaquoddy Tribe at Indian Township, in her Washington, D.C., office. The groups stressed how important the special diabetes program is to Native Americans, who have a disproportionately high rate of diabetes. Last summer, Senator Collins chaired a hearing on recent advances in research, particularly artificial pancreas systems, and highlighting the importance of renewing the SDP for Type 1 research for new treatments, therapies, and ultimately a cure.
“The reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Program will bring much-needed relief to the nearly 1.25 million Americans living with type 1 diabetes,” said Senator Shaheen. “As both co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus and negotiators in the Common Sense Caucus, Senator Collins and I fought to ensure this critical program was included so that researchers can rightfully address the needs and concerns of the 30 million Americans and their families impacted by diabetes. The funding that comes with the reauthorization of this program is a significant investment in research into new disease management tools, treatment options, and hopefully one day a cure. However, more work needs to be done supporting diabetes research, education, prevention and treatment, and I won’t stop fighting until we have the full scope of resources required to combat this disease.”
Both senators have led efforts in Congress to ensure continued support for the Special Diabetes Program. As co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, Senators Collins and Shaheen have worked together to increase awareness of the threats posed by diabetes, invest in research, and improve access to treatment options. Last year, their bill to establish a national commission of healthcare experts to advance diabetes care and prevention was signed into law by the President.
"The Special Diabetes Program (SDP) provides essential funding to researchers all over the country working to improve the lives of those with diabetes and to find a cure for this disease,” said Derek Rapp, JDRF’s President and CEO. “We are so pleased that full funding for the SDP is included in this bill, and want to especially thank Senator Susan Collins and Senator Jeanne Shaheen for their steadfast leadership. They are true champions for the diabetes community."
The Special Diabetes Program consists of two components: the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research which supports research to prevent, treat, and cure type 1 diabetes and its complications; and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians which supports diabetes treatment and prevention strategies for American Indian and Alaska Native populations who are disproportionately burdened with Type 2 diabetes at a rate of 2.8 times the national average.
In addition to the human toll, diabetes cost the United States $245 billion in 2012, and it has been estimated that the number of Americans living with the disease will double and the related health care costs will nearly triple by 2035. More than one in five health care dollars and one in three Medicare dollars are currently spent on care for people with diabetes. Fortunately, the Special Diabetes Program is advancing research to cure, treat, and prevent type 1 diabetes. It is also helping to prevent and treat diabetes in the American Indian and Alaska Native community, while yielding a strong return on investment.
A number of notable developments can be attributed to the Special Diabetes Program, including progress on an artificial pancreas system, which will reduce costly and burdensome type 1 diabetes complications and improve quality of life for those with the disease; discovery that intensive blood glucose control can significantly reduce the onset of impaired kidney function; and other cutting-edge research promising to change the future of diabetes.