Call to include pre-diabetes in rebates
THREE of the health and wellbeing sector's peak industry bodies have called on the Federal Government to extend Medicare eligibility criteria to enable patients with pre-diabetes to access Medicare rebates for allied health group services.
Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA), Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) lodged the formal submission with the government this week in preparation for the release of the federal budget in May.
ESSA industry development officer Katie Williams said at present, only patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (TD2M) were able to access the rebates and more focus needed to be placed on preventing the onset of diabetes rather than tackling the problem when it's too late.
"Current research suggests at least two million Australians have pre-diabetes and are at high risk of developing T2DM," Ms Williams said.
"Furthermore, the 2011-2012 National Health Survey indicated 5.1 per cent of Australian adults already have diabetes and the number of Australians diagnosed with diabetes is expected to grow to 3.5 million by 2033."
"These statistics are alarming and highlight the need to implement strategies for preventing the incidence of diabetes rather than solely focusing on treatment."
Ms Williams said pre-diabetes was a recognised risk factor for diabetes and cancer, and research indicated lifestyle interventions like those provided by allied health practitioners could delay the onset of these conditions.
"When delivered by qualified health professionals, lifestyle interventions such as diet improvements and physical activity programs have been shown to be effective as single treatments for pre-diabetes," Ms Williams said.
"One recent study* showed pre-diabetes patients who made lifestyle changes were 40 per cent less likely to progress to diabetes after one year compared to those who did not make lifestyle changes."
"With this in mind, we urge the government to offer rebates on allied health group service fees so pre-diabetes patients are more inclined to access preventative treatment before their health declines further."
Ms Williams said at present, the total annual cost of T2DM to Australian communities was estimated at $14.6 billion.
"This figure is forecast to increase to $30 billion by 2025, so it makes sense to tackle the problem head-on now and stop it from progressing any further."
"By making efforts to delay disease progression, significant direct and indirect cost savings can be made for the community as a whole."
Ms Williams said the organisations' joint submission had also been sent to the National Diabetes Strategy Advisory group as part of the consultation process for a new National Diabetes Strategy.
"With T2DM projected to become the leading cause of disease burden for men and the second leading cause for women by 2023, it is critical that action is taken now to halt this worrying trend."
To read the full submission, find out more about ESSA or locate an Accredited Exercise Physiologist in your local area, please visit www.essa.org.au.