Legislature gives strong bipartisan approval measure intended to reduce incidence of diabetes

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the State Department of Health would be directed by Senate Bill 250 to collaborate on development of goals for reducing the incidence of diabetes in Oklahoma. 

High rates of diabetes have long been a challenge to state health officials in the Sooner State.

The new measure with state Sen. Susan Paddock, D-Ada, as lead sponsor received overwhelming bipartisan support in both legislative chambers. The House of Representatives passed the bill, 67-18, on Thursday (April 2); the Senate approved it, 39-4, on March 5. The bill is pending with Gov. Mary Fallin.

Goals suggested in S.B. 250 would include improvements in health care services and prevention services, better procedures to control complications, and statistics, including the financial impact of diabetes and the number of Oklahomans afflicted with the disease.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Health:

* More than 329,000 Oklahomans 18 and older were diagnosed with diabetes in 2012, according to the state Health Department.

* Oklahoma ranked ninth in the nation in 2012 for the percentage of the adult population diagnosed with diabetes.

* The percent of the adult population being diagnosed with diabetes has been growing at a faster rate in Oklahoma than in the nation.

* Nearly one in every four senior citizens (65 years and older) in Oklahoma has been diagnosed with diabetes.

* Oklahoma’s Native Americans have been diagnosed more frequently, and die from diabetes at the highest rate of any other race or ethnic group in this state. Diagnosis rates include American Indians, 16.4 percent; African Americans, 12.3 percent; Caucasians, 11.6 percent; multiracial individuals, 9.5 percent; and Hispanic, 7.6 percent.

* Diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the nation in 2010, but in Oklahoma it was the sixth-leading cause of death that year.

* Hospital admissions with diabetes as a primary diagnosis numbered 7,007 in Oklahoma in 2012. During the past decade, hospital admissions for diabetes increased 21 percent.

* Oklahoma adults reported the sixth-highest percentage of obesity, a key risk factor for diabetes, in the nation in 2012. The national average was 28.1 percent; Oklahomaâs rate was 32.2 percent.

* Besides the obese citizens, another 35.6 percent of Oklahomaâs adults reported they were overweight in 2012.

* One-fourth of all Oklahoma adults did not participate in any leisure-time physical activity in 2012.

* Adults with lower socioeconomic status reported higher percentages of obesity and less leisure-time physical activity.

* Oklahoma ranks sixth in the nation for the percentage of adults who are obese, and eighth in the nation for the percentage of adults who forego physical activity.

* The number of Oklahoma children aged 10-17 who were deemed overweight or obese in 2011-12, based on their body mass index, was estimated at almost 34 percent.

In the upper chamber last Thursday, the measure enjoyed support from President Pro Temp Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, and other key Republicans.

In the House last month, the bill was supported by 23 Democrats and 44 Republicans.

Minority party members (Democrats) included Reps. Will Fourkiller of Stilwell, Claudia Griffith of Norman and Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City, all of whom are members of the Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Health; Rep. Jeannie McDaniel of Tulsa, a member of the House Committee on Public Health who also co-authored the measure; and House Democratic Leader Scott Inman of Del City.