- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state spent more than $1.2 billion on diabetes-related medical services last year, according to a new report that suggests the costs associated with the chronic disease are likely to impose ever greater burdens on the state.

Total Medicaid spending related to diabetes surged 31 percent in the past five years, the report from Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found. Some 1.6 million New Yorkers - or 10 percent of the state’s adult population - have been diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and 460,000 of them are covered by the state’s Medicaid program.

The report estimates that another 750,000 New Yorkers have the disease but don’t yet know it, while 1.5 million are at risk of developing it.

“Millions of New Yorkers suffer from diabetes and the numbers are growing,” DiNapoli said. “It is a costly disease to fight given its chronic nature and the severity of its complications. … Clearly, the battle against diabetes must continue.”

There were 4,035 diabetes-related deaths in 2013, the last year with available data. Low-income adults have the highest prevalence of the disease. Minorities are also at higher risk.

Jill Abelseth, an Albany physician and director of Capital Region Diabetes and Endocrine Care, said the report shows the state is “facing an epidemic of almost unrecognizable proportions” but that public health efforts to prevent and treat the disease can work.

“In 2050 it is predicted that one out of every three Americans will have Type 2 diabetes,” she said. “Many more will have prediabetes. … We have the ability to reverse this epidemic and I believe New York state will provide a leadership role as we move forward.”

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