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The Implications of the Resignation at the CDC

Earlier in the month, we faced the threat of a government shutdown. This week we learned of the resignation of the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is always unfortunate to learn that the government systems we rely on are broken, or that a person who is in a position of public trust has let the agency, its employees, and the public down. Shutdowns and sudden exits thrust the work of government agencies and officials into a precarious period as they wait for normalcy. Without a leader, it is difficult to make decisions and move important initiatives forward as instinctually people hold on to their current comfort zone in times of uncertainty. The fact that the CDC will be without a director will have real implications on the important work of the CDC. Undoubtedly, there are several key projects that will require leadership and decisions by the go-to person. But what do we do when the go-to is gone? Let me give you an example.

In less than 60 days, millions of seniors will be eligible for a new preventive health service with no cost sharing under the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, or Medicare DPP. Although the program is administered according to the CMS Final Rule, the suppliers of the in-person preventive services gain recognition and are deemed acceptable to enroll participants by the CDC. Key determinations are pending related to the Medicare DPP, including the revised standards that suppliers need to govern their operations and data collection. The release of the standards is out of CDC’s hands and rests with the administration, but having a CDC director in place to encourage the timely release of the standard would be of great assistance. Unfortunately, the post is now vacant.

For months, several diabetes prevention stakeholders have looked for ways to partner with the CDC to develop a national DPP referral and enrollment website that connects patients to the CDC’s registry of DPP providers, verifies health plan DPP eligibility, and enrolls people at high-risk for developing type 2 diabetes into the Diabetes Prevention Program that meets their needs and preferences. An effective centralized DPP enrollment site would significantly improve the headache that comes from an individual having to toggle between the CDC’s DPRP website, their health plan website (to determine DPP coverage) and the DPP provider’s website, if one exists. After suggesting and offering a DPP platform that could improve access to DPP providers for millions of U.S. adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes, CDC has been noncommittal on the offer, but has not provided an alternate solution. Thus, the need for a national DPP referral and enrollment website to create a seamless experience for individuals to determine their diabetes risk, confirm their health plan coverage and enroll in a program remains elusive.

At Solera, we are committed to changing lives by connecting people to healthcare solutions that work. As an integrated benefit network, Solera is uniquely positioned to leverage our technology platform to offer consumers a convenient way to access and enroll in a CDC-recognized DPP supplier. Innovation is frequently led by private companies that are better equipped to innovate and meet market requirements. To scale the Diabetes Prevention Program to improve the health of our nation’s seniors on April 1st, Solera and other organizations have looked for ways we can work together to improve consumers’ access to this new benefit to prevent the 84 million Americans at high risk for type 2 diabetes with programs that are proven to reduce this risk.

It is always unfortunate to learn that a person who is in a position of public trust has let the agency, its employees, and the public down. But let’s remember that government’s role may be best suited to establish policies that are best implemented by the private sector. The history of the American spirit has seen great innovation when private solutions answer public problems.

– Brenda Schmidt, CEO and Founder of Solera Health