Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance Programs Expand to Atlanta to Help Tackle City’s Diabetes Crisis

* Atlanta among first cities in the nation to have access to community-based programs from UnitedHealth Group, Walgreens and the Y proven to prevent and control diabetes

* Delta Air Lines among the first employers to offer Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance programs to their employees

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Atlanta residents are among the first in the United States to have access to Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance community-based programs that use proven approaches to help prevent and control diabetes.

“Diabetes is taking a devastating toll on our children, our families and our communities in Atlanta, but we have a program that is proven to help prevent the disease”

The two Alliance programs – available at no cost to participants – are:

* The Diabetes Prevention Program with the Y helps people with prediabetes and who are at high risk for diabetes prevent the disease through healthy eating, increased physical activity and other lifestyle changes;
* The Diabetes Control Program with Walgreens provides education and support from trained pharmacists and nurse practitioners to help people with diabetes better control their condition and reduce the risk of developing complications from diabetes, such as nerve, kidney and eye disease.

The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance was launched in 2010 by founding partners UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), Walgreens (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG), the Y and others.

Diabetes cost the country an estimated $194 billion in 2010. More than 50 percent of Americans could have diabetes or prediabetes by 2020 if current trends continue, according to an analysis from the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization, which predicts diabetes and prediabetes will account for an estimated 10 percent of total health care spending by the end of the decade at an annual cost of almost $500 billion.

In Georgia nearly 10 percent of the adult population has diabetes, including about 354,000 people who are unaware of their condition, according to the Georgia Department of Community Health. Diabetes costs the state an estimated $5.1 billion annually, according to Department estimates from 2006, the latest year for which data are available.

“Diabetes is taking a devastating toll on our children, our families and our communities in Atlanta, but we have a program that is proven to help prevent the disease,” said Catherine Palmier, M.D., chief medical director for UnitedHealthcare’s southeast region. “Diabetes is largely preventable – it is the small lifestyle decisions we make every day that make the biggest impact. These programs provide an opportunity for people in Atlanta to take control of their own health and tackle this disease.”

Delta Air Lines is one of the Alliance’s first customers in the area to offer the programs to its employees.

“Delta Air Lines is committed to helping our employees live healthy lives, and we are intensifying that effort by making the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance programs available to our employees and their dependents,” said Lynn Zonakis, Delta’s managing director of Health Strategy and Resources. “Through the DPCA and other programs, our 25,000 Atlanta-based employees are able to take better control of their health and learn healthy behaviors that help them lead more productive lives now and into the future.”

There is substantial evidence that supports early and aggressive intervention to help people avoid the health and financial toll of diabetes. The programs at the Y and Walgreens have been tested in controlled clinical trials or pilot projects with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Y, Indiana University, clinical centers, employers and retail pharmacies.

Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO), a world leader in diabetes care and a DPCA partner, works with health care professionals to create awareness and understanding of the value of the Alliance’s two anchor programs and helps them refer their patients to the appropriate program.

Diabetes Prevention Program: Addressing Weight and Lifestyle to Prevent Diabetes

The Diabetes Prevention Program is offered in Atlanta in partnership with the Y and is part of CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program. It is designed to bring evidence-based lifestyle interventions to communities by working with community-based organizations and third-party payers who adhere to a CDC-recognized, evidence-based curriculum. UnitedHealth Group and the Y are partners in the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

The program, offered by the Y, uses a group-based lifestyle intervention designed especially for people with prediabetes (people who are at high risk of developing diabetes). In an interactive group setting, a trained lifestyle coach helps participants change their lifestyle by educating them about healthy eating, physical activity and behavior modifications over a 16-session program. After the initial 16 core sessions, participants meet monthly for up to one year for added support to help them maintain their progress.

Research from the Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial, led by the NIH with support from the CDC, has shown that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

Diabetes Control Program: Reducing Dangerous, Costly Diabetes Complications

The Diabetes Control Program is offered in Atlanta in partnership with Walgreens. It provides people with diabetes access to trained Walgreens pharmacists and nurse practitioners who provide personalized coaching and counseling and who help patients improve adherence to their physicians’ treatment plans. The goal is for patients to improve blood glucose control – every percentage point drop in HbA1c levels, a commonly used blood glucose marker, reduces by 40 percent the risk of developing complications from diabetes such as heart disease, nerve disease, blindness and limb amputations.

“Walgreens is proud to partner with UnitedHealth Group to bring this comprehensive diabetes treatment and self-care management program to Atlanta,” said Colin Watts, Walgreens chief innovation officer. “We believe the Diabetes Control Program is an ideal model for managing one of the most pervasive and costly chronic diseases in the country. For years, Walgreens has been committed to serving the needs of people with diabetes, and we are customizing many of the program elements of Walgreens Optimal Wellness™, a national program capitalizing on the power of face-to-face interaction with a trusted Walgreens pharmacist or nurse practitioner, for application in the Diabetes Control Program. Walgreens is excited to bring this initiative to Atlanta and looks forward to collaborating with such a strong and innovative partner.”

Home Healthcare Laboratory of America (HHLA), a subsidiary of Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, another Alliance partner, provides screening tests to Control Program participants through the use of Lab-in-an-Envelope® services for use at home. HHLA mails HbA1c and lipid panel testing kits to participants every three months to provide a convenient method for them to regularly monitor blood glucose control and cholesterol levels.

Alliance Programs Rolling Out Nationally

Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance programs are available now in 13 markets in 10 states, including Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; Oklahoma City; Albuquerque, N.M.; New York; Livingston, N.J.; New Haven, Conn; and Atlanta. This year, the DPCA programs are launching in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Houston, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Jacksonville and Orlando, Fla. The Alliance programs will continue to roll out in additional cities across the country through 2012.

Services offered by the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance may be contracted by any health insurer and plan sponsor. The Alliance marks the first time in the United States that a health plan is paying for evidence-based diabetes prevention and engaging pharmacists to support critical diabetes management programs. Currently, DPCA services are available at no out-of-pocket cost to participants enrolled in employer-provided health insurance plans through UnitedHealthcare and Medica.

The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance is one of many UnitedHealth Group programs and services that fight diabetes, obesity and related health problems in creative, practical ways to help improve health care quality, expand support and coverage, and help bend the cost curve.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tips on Avoiding Fraudulent Charitable Contribution Schemes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reminds the public to use caution when making donations in the aftermath of natural disasters. Unfortunately, criminals can exploit these tragedies for their own gain by sending fraudulent e-mails and creating phony websites designed to solicit contributions.

The FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud have an existing tip line to receive information from the public about suspected fraud associated with the earthquake and tsunami that affected Japan. Tips should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud, (866) 720-5721. The line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, e-mails can be sent to disaster@leo.gov, and information can be faxed to (225) 334-4707.

The National Center for Disaster Fraud was created by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast region. Now, its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or man-made disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the FBI, participate in the NCDF, which allows the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.

The FBI continues to remind the public to perform due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations or individuals offering to provide assistance to the people of Japan. Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, flyers, mailings, telephone calls, and other similar methods.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including:

* Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages because they may contain computer viruses.
* Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as members of charitable organizations or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
* Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
* Rather than follow a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status.
* Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
* To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
* Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use such tactics.
* Be aware of whom you are dealing with when providing your personal and financial information. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
* Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
* Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services. Most legitimate charities websites end in .org rather than .com.

Consumers can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov.

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