NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 4, 2005

New York, the first American city to track infectious disease, has now proposed a similar system to monitor diabetes, says the Las Vegas Sun.

Nationally, diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death and afflicts about 18.2 million Americans. In New York, it is the fourth leading cause of death and at least half a million people suffer from the disease. Many of them are at risk for blindness, kidney failure, amputations and heart problems because they are doing a poor job of controlling their illness, says the Sun.

The new plan, which will cost $1-$2 million annually, would require medical labs to report the results of A1c tests -- which indicate blood glucose levels over several months -- for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

  • The program wouldn't initially get consent to collect data, but would allow patients to opt out later.
  • The database would also be tightly controlled, off limits to anyone but department staff, the patients and their doctors.
  • Over time, doctors could receive letters telling them whether their patients have been getting adequate care; people who skip checkups might get a note from their doctors, reminding them of the dangers of untreated diabetes.

City health officials maintain that the plan is necessary to monitor the quality of treatment; however, opponents say that the plan would violate patient privacy and argue that it is not the business of the government to know that a person's diabetes is not in control.

But since diabetes treatment costs the city and residents about $5 billion annually, and 1,891 people died of diabetes-related complications in 2003, supporters contend that they cannot afford to do nothing.

Source: David B. Caruso, "N.Y. Diabetes-Tracking Plan Draws Concern," Las Vegas Sun, July 25, 2005.


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