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Congresswoman Maxine Introduces Legislation to Reduce Diabetes Disparities

November 23, 2011
Press Release

Last Friday, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) reintroduced the Minority Diabetes Initiative Act (H.R. 2799).  This bill will establish an initiative to provide grants to physicians and community?based organizations for diabetes prevention, care, and treatment programs in minority communities.  The bill has a diverse group of cosponsors, including Donna Christensen, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Health Braintrust; Lucille Roybal-Allard, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Health Task Force; Barbara Lee, Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Health Task Force; Madeleine Bordallo, Vice-Chair of the CAPAC; Charles Gonzalez, Chair of the CHC; and Raul Grijalva, Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

"Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and it is having an especially severe impact on minorities," said Congresswoman Waters.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among persons over the age of 20, 8.4 percent of Asian Americans, 11.8 percent of Hispanic Americans, 12.6 percent of African Americans, and 14.2 percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives have been diagnosed with diabetes.  The CDC calculated that compared to whites, Hispanics were 1.5 times as likely to die from diabetes; American Indians were almost twice as likely to die from diabetes; and blacks were more than twice as likely to die from the disease.

"Diabetes can lead to serious and sometimes deadly complications, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, and lower-limb amputations.  Minorities with diabetes often lack access to quality health care and are more likely to suffer from complications," said Congresswoman Waters.

The Minority Diabetes Initiative Act will provide grants for a variety of diabetes-related health services, including public education on diabetes prevention and control, routine health care for diabetic patients, eye care, foot care, and treatment for kidney disease and other complications of diabetes. 

"The Minority Diabetes Initiative Act will help minorities affected by diabetes to live healthy and productive lives," said Congresswoman Waters.