By John Celock
Kansas lawmakers have advanced legislation that would upgrade efforts on diabetes prevention.
The state House of Representatives gave approval Thursday to a bill that would have the state Department of Health and Environment provide lawmakers every two years with information about the state’s diabetes programs and recommendations for legislative action. The bill was born out of House Rules Committee Chairman Blaine Finch’s (R-Ottawa) daughter being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“We had no idea then how much our lives and her life would change by having Type 1 diabetes,” Finch said.
Under the terms of the legislation, the health department would provide lawmakers in January of even numbered years with the financial impact diabetes has for the state, local governments and individuals, an assessment of department programs on diabetes, a description of how the department’s activities and messaging on diabetes education, a “detailed action plan” on diabetes preventions for lawmakers to consider and budget proposal for diabetes prevention programs.
Finch said the bill would use data already collected by the health department and use that to give the Legislature a way to address diabetes prevention during the annual legislative sessions. He noted that currently 300,000 Kansans have diabetes.
Finch said that with the private sector using data to make decisions, he believes that the state should be following suit.
“In business what gets measure gets done,” Finch said. “If we are measuring this and having the conversation every other year we can be more effective in our efforts.”
Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), who has Type 2 diabetes, said that the bill would help address diabetes prevention in the state. He credited Finch’s daughter with convincing him on why the bill should be addressed. Finch’s daughter testified before the health committee during a hearing on the bill.
Health and Human Service Committee Ranking Minority Member John Wilson (D-Lawrence) said the bill would help save all residents money through decreased insurance costs.
“If we can prevent, we can get our hands around preventing illness we can all save money,” he said.
Finch said he can see the program saving money for the state along with addressing the lives of diabetics in the state.
“This way we can reduce costs, which are $2.6 million a year, but let diabetics live longer and healthier lives,” he said.