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House Approves One-Year Reauthorization of Special Diabetes Program

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Today, the House of Representatives passed a one-year reauthorization of the Special Diabetes Programs for Indians.

The reauthorization was contained in HR 4302, a bill which also created a one-year “doc fix” that would avert a 24 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians. The “doc fix” was a contentious bill in the House.

Proponents of the Special Diabetes Programs for Indians reauthorization were pushing for a five-year reauthorization of the program instead of the yearly reauthorization that has occurred in recent times. However, in order to avoid stirring up any controversy or debate on the other items contained in the bill, the House opted to pass a one-year extension to all provisions by voice vote, under a suspension of the rules which required a two-thirds vote.

The Senate version, S 2110, was introduced March 11, 2014, by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and contains a five-year reauthorization.

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The bill was placed on the Senate legislative calendar March 12, 2014, by unanimous consent. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is expected to schedule the bill for full Senate consideration within the next few days.

Congress established the Special Diabetes Programs for Indians in 1997 to address the growing epidemic of diabetes in the American Indian and Alaska Natives communities. Native communities have the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the nation, with the current the rate hovering at 2.8 times the national average. The Special Diabetes Programs for Indians is set to expire on September 30, 2014, unless Congress acts to renew it.