Kentucky meets the diabetes challenge with a comprehensive plan that 15 other states have modeled, advocates say

Kentucky has not simply accepted the dire diabetes statistics that affect so many of its citizens, but instead is meeting this challenge head on with The Kentucky Diabetic Action Plan, Stewart Perry and Bob Babbage write in an op-ed piece for The Courier-Journal.

Perry and Babbage wrote this piece to draw attention to World Diabetes Day, held every year on Nov. 14 to engage people in advocacy and awareness about the disease.

 “Thanks to the efforts of health care providers, political leaders and diabetes advocates and volunteers, Kentucky is a leader among the states in efforts to address the diabetes epidemic,” the authors write.

“The incidence of diabetes has tripled in Kentucky since 1995. We have the fifth-highest incidence of diabetes among all the states. Almost 1 in 5 Kentuckians has diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes costs Kentucky an estimated $4.8 billion a year in direct and indirect costs,” the authors write.

They summarize the Action Plan, proudly saying that “no fewer than 15 states have used Kentucky’s bill as a model for their own legislation.”

“In 2011 Kentucky became the first state to mandate the development of a statewide, comprehensive diabetes action plan,” they write. “The first Kentucky Diabetes Report was presented to the General Assembly in 2013 and will be updated every two years. Two years later, Kentucky became the first state to license diabetes educators. This year Kentucky passed Safe at School legislation which makes it easier for students to manage health care needs during school hours, provides that every school has trained personnel to assist students when necessary and assures that students with medical needs are not excluded from extracurricular activities.”

The reason so many states are attempting to adopt this model, what makes it unique, say the authors, is that “the plan requires agencies to work together to develop a seamless, cooperative plan.” The law requires the state Department of Public Health, the Department for Medicaid Services, the Office of Health Policy and the state Personnel Cabinet to collaborate in the development and implementation of the plan.

“We celebrate because Kentucky is not shrinking from the challenge of confronting diabetes but is instead at the forefront of efforts to prevent the disease and care for those who have diabetes,” the authors write.

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