Special Diabetes ProgramDid you know that there is a Congressional Diabetes Caucus? In this brief introductory post, you’ll learn what it is, who is involved, and why it matters to the diabetes community.

What is a Caucus?

A caucus is made up of individuals that share common legislative goals and initiatives. The Diabetes Caucus is, therefore, a group of Congress members who share the common goal of supporting legislation to benefit people with diabetes.

Comprised of the House Diabetes Caucus and Senate Diabetes Caucus, the primary focus of the Diabetes Caucus:

“Is to educate members of Congress and their staff about diabetes and to support legislative activities that would improve diabetes research, education, and treatment” – The Congressional Diabetes Caucus

Within a year after it was formed in 1996, they were able to pass legislation to help increase the coverage of diabetes education and supplies from Medicare. There are over 300 members of the Diabetes Caucus, making it one of the largest caucuses in Congress.

Why Does It Matter?

There are currently five bills in the Senate and seven bills in the House that can be co-sponsored to help people with diabetes in the United States.  One out of three Diabetes Caucus members cosponsor zero of the bills listed on the DPAC Scorecard.

DPACActNowBubbleHere is a breakdown of the percentage of Diabetes Caucus members who cosponsor bills (as of February 2016):

  • Cosponsor None – 92 = 30%
  • Cosponsor 1 bills – 88 = 28%
  • Cosponsor 2 bills – 68 = 22%
  • Cosponsor 3 bills – 38 = 12%
  • Cosponsor 4 bills – 12 = 4%
  • Cosponsor 5 bills – 4 = 1%
  • Cosponsor 6 bills – 2 = 0.6%
  • Cosponsor 7 bills – 1 = 0.3%

There is work that needs to be done. It is important for all of us  to continue to write Congress, tweet them, and meet with them to inform them about the importance of these particular diabetes bills.

Key Diabetes Caucus Members

While there are over 300 members, here are the Chairs of the caucus.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) – Senate Co-Chair

  • Supports Medicare CGM Access Act and National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act.
  • Sponsor of Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act and Gestational Diabetes Act.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – Senate Co-Chair

  • Supports Medicare CGM Access Act and  National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act.
  • Sponsor of Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act and Gestational Diabetes Act.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO-1) – House Chair

  • Supports Medicare CGM Access Act, National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act, and Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act.
  • Sponsor of Medicare National Diabetes Prevention Program, Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, Medicare Prevention / Nutrition Education, and Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1) – House Chair

  • Supports Medicare CGM Access Act, National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act, and Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act.
  • Sponsor of Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, Medicare Prevention / Nutrition Education, and Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) – House Vice Chair

  • Does not currently support the top diabetes related legislation.

Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY-23) – House Vice Chair

  • Supports Medicare CGM Access Act, National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act, and Access to Quality Diabetes Education Act.
  • Sponsor of Medicare National Diabetes Prevention Program and Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act.

As you can see from above, not every Chair or Vice Chair is supporting or sponsoring all (or any) legislation that will benefit people with diabetes. This is a problem throughout the Diabetes Caucus. Members of the caucus are not up to date on issues that concern people with diabetes. We can do something to change this right now.

Are Your Elected Officials on the Diabetes Caucus?DPAC Scorecard

Are your representatives are members of the Diabetes Caucus? You can easily find that out by going to our DPAC Scorecard. At the top of the Scorecard, find the column titled “Diabetes Caucus Member” and then scroll down to your representatives.

If you need help finding out the names of your elected officials, no worries, we have a tool for that too! You can use our Elected Officials Lookup Tool. Just simply type in your zip code and click Act Now.

From the Scorecard, you can see if your elected officials are members of the Diabetes Caucus and if they have supported any of the diabetes Bills that will benefit our community.

If you see a “Please” in the column, that means they have not yet supported. Click on that link and it will automatically generate a tweet from you to be sent out to that elected official.

We also want to thank those that have supported legislation, so if you see a link that says “Thanks”, please go ahead and tweet a nice thank you to let them know how much you appreciate what they are doing for people with diabetes.

Whether your Congressional representatives are part of the Diabetes Caucus or not, please take a moment to let them know they need to support these bills, because they impact our diabetes community.