Promoting Diabetes Prevention for Federal Employees

For the second year in a row, Leavitt Partners presented on diabetes prevention at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) annual carrier conference. The presentation was made on behalf of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and alongside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation (DDT).

OPM’s Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program is notable for its size and for its wide selection of health plans for federal employees and retirees. Approximately eight million FEHB beneficiaries have multiple health plan options to choose from in any given geography. With diabetes as a top driver of medical and pharmacy cost, OPM is prioritizing access to diabetes prevention services for its members and holding FEHB carriers accountable for diabetes outcomes.

In 2015, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended screening for abnormal blood glucose for overweight adults ages 40 to 70, and (for those who screen positive) referral to “intensive behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet and physical activity” (summary of recommendation here). Among existing intensive behavioral counseling interventions, the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) lifestyle change program can be effective in delaying or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. Participants in the National DPP randomized clinical trial experienced a 58 percent reduction in the incidence of diabetes (summary of findings here). Pictured to the right: CDC and Leavitt Partners staff (on behalf of the NACDD) participate in a diabetes prevention and management panel at the 2017 OPM Carrier Conference.

The effectiveness of the National DPP was a key focus during OPM’s annual carrier conference. Rachel Blacher, Project Officer at the DDT, cited the program’s evidence base, as well as milestones in participation and coverage of the National DPP lifestyle change program. Rebecca Nielsen, Senior Director at Leavitt Partners, walked through the National DPP Coverage Toolkit ( NACDD, Leavitt Partners, and the CDC collaboratively developed the toolkit as a resource for payers who are interested in covering the National DPP for their beneficiaries. The toolkit houses tailored content for state Medicaid agencies, Medicaid managed care organizations, self-insured employers, and commercial plans (such as the carriers in the FEHB Program). This online resource contains information about the program’s design and the evidence base and practical information about developing a network, billing and coding, and lists plans and employers already providing coverage.

The impetus for diabetes prevention interventions is notable. Approximately one in three adults in the United States have abnormal blood glucose levels that put them at risk for diabetes. Furthermore, it is estimated that 15 – 30 percent of those individuals will progress to type 2 diabetes within five years in the absence of an intervention (see figure below).

Employers can use their influence with carriers and beneficiaries alike to enhance access to the program and can utilize the toolkit for information about coverage and implementation.