A national effort to combat diabetes and stem the rising tide of health care costs has executives at 31 corporations teaming up for the Diabetes Ten City Challenges.

The initiative, organized through the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, with support from GlaxoSmithKline, establishes a voluntary health benefit for employees, their dependents and retirees; provides incentives through waived co-pays for diabetes medications and supplies; and helps people manage their diabetes with help from a pharmacist coach in collaboration with physicians and diabetes educators.

“This is an important and exciting milestone for our program,” said foundation CEO William M. Ellis. “More than 1,000 people already are participating in this innovative employer-based diabetes management program.”

“The Diabetes Ten City Challenge is an opportunity to transform health care delivery in local communities and drive fundamental change in the U.S. health care system,” Ellis said. “Our nation’s health care system is broken – we need more programs that are an investment in wellness rather than an expense for sickness.”

The 10 cities selected to participate are Charleston/Spartanburg; Chicago; Colorado Springs; Cumberland; Dalton; Honolulu; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; and Tampa Bay.

The U.S. spends over $132 billion a year on diabetes – that adds up to $13,242 on each patient with diabetes, compared with $2,560 per person for people who do not have diabetes, according to the foundation.

“At the end of the day, it is employers who pay the bulk of the health care bills in this country, and they are dependent on the health and productivity of their employees to stay competitive,” said Andrew Webber,
president and CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health.