Congress Asks: Why Can’t Seniors Have Accurate BG Meters?

Trusted versus Unknown

If you had a choice between using a trusted blood glucose meter that you know is accurate and one that you had never used before (and never heard of before) that you don’t know is accurate, which would you pick? 

Most of us would choose the accurate one, for obvious reasons. However, for Medicare beneficiaries who want to use the National Mail Order Program to receive their testing supplies, that’s not often an option.

H.R. 3271 and S. 1914 (both known as the Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Acts of 2017) force the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to change the way that the Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) is applied to diabetes testing supplies.

DPAC has been speaking in support of H.R. 3271 and S.1914 (Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Acts of 2017) for some time now –  just see DPAC’s CEO Christel Marchand Aprigliano’s testimony on the bill in front of the E&C Subcommittee on Health as one example!

Now we have a chance to get new momentum behind the bill.  

The Congressional Diabetes Caucus recently sent a letter to the acting secretary of HHS asking him why Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes are receiving blood glucose meters that aren’t accurate. If H.R. 3271 or S. 1914 becomes law, CMS must do two main things: (1) strengthen the 50% rule, which would lead to Medicare beneficiaries being able to use the accurate blood glucose meter they trust, and (2) strengthen and codify the anti-switching rule, which would change the refill process to give the beneficiary more choice and knowledge from the supplier when they buy a blood glucose meter.

We have Congress’s attention. Now we need to ask them to act!

Keep reading for details or click HERE to send a letter

to your Representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 3271!

Currently, Medicare pays for the cheapest blood glucose meters, so the most trusted blood glucose meters on the market are not available to beneficiaries. Additionally, as the Congressional Caucus on Diabetes wrote, a recent study showed that only six of the eighteen blood glucose meters in the study were accurate to DA Standards. Many of the meters offered through the National Mail Order Program are not accurate.

The bills require CMS to make sure that an entity that enters the competitive bidding process has the ability to actually get their products to people with diabetes when the person needs it. The bills also let CMS terminate a contract with a bidding entity if it is unable to get supplies to beneficiaries when they need them. In addition, the bill specifies that an entity furnishing such products to beneficiaries:

  • an entity selling diabetes testing supplies must give the Medicare beneficiary the brand of test strips that they want, and that match the blood glucose meter that they want,
  • the entity may not try to influence or incentivize a beneficiary to switch the brand of either their diabetic test strips or their blood glucose meter, and  
  • the entity must refill prescriptions within fourteen days.

(House Summary) DPAC has blogged about this in detail before, and that blog can be found HERE.

This month, the Congressional Diabetes Caucus took up this issue when they wrote a letter to the acting secretary of HHS, Eric Hargan, asking him why Medicare beneficiaries only had access to certain blood glucose – most of which did not give accurate results! The Caucus asked HHS what steps, if any, CMS and the FDA are taking to ensure seniors with diabetes receive products that work as intended? In its letter, the Caucus wrote:

“Given the importance of blood glucose measurement to manage diabetes, we are concerned about the study implications on patient health and safety. Some stakeholders have even suggested that CMS suspend the National Mail Order Program in light of these and other potential problems that are limiting seniors’ access to quality products. We therefore urge you to take action to implement and enforce product performance standards for diabetes testing supplies. Seniors should be able to rely on the accuracy of the blood glucose testing systems obtained from Medicare. Taxpayer dollars also should not be spent on products that are inaccurate, unsafe, of dubious quality or that are mislabeled or misbranded.”

CMS has until January 29th to give an answer to the Caucus’s questions. You can learn more about the Congressional Diabetes Caucus HERE.

H.R.3271 and S.1914 will let Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes use the blood glucose meter that they and their doctor decide is best for them, and will make sure that no company can try and get a beneficiary to switch brands for no medical reason.

We need to help Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes get quality equipment.

You can send a letter to your Representative asking them to cosponsor H.R.3271 HERE.

Let’s protect our community on Medicare with diabetes!


Help the Senate HELP Committee

The current lack of coordination between three dozen federal agencies for diabetes programs is one item that can be fixed by the current 114th Congress.

The National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act (H.R.1192/S.586) would create a commission to help bring these agencies together and provide recommendations, support, and programs for all Americans with diabetes and the 86 million Americans who have prediabetes.

House Passed, But Stuck in HELP Committee

This bill passed the House on November 14, 2016, and was sent to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

It’s still there. Without a discharge from this committee, it will never see the Senate floor and be voted upon before a new Congress is sworn in (and this Act would start from zero!).

We Need Senator Lamar Alexander to discharge this bill from this committee. (He’s the chair.) Once that’s done, it can be brought to the Senate floor, where it has 33 cosponsors, and then off to be signed by the President to become law.

Why is it Stuck?

We’ve gotten word from our colleagues at AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) that despite their meetings with leadership, the CURES Act and the upcoming ACA issues are pushing this bill to the back burner. The claim is that no more committee markups will be scheduled.

The diabetes community can’t push this disease to the back burner. We need to help the HELP Committee leadership understand the benefit to not only our community but the U.S. health care system as well if this bill passes.

Let’s HELP the HELP Committee.

accelogoClick here to send a message to your Senators, asking them to contact Senator Lamar Alexander, the Chair of the HELP Committee, and ask him to discharge this bill from HELP so that it can be voted upon by the Senate.

To learn more about the bill, click here.

To learn what DPAC has to say about the bill, click here.

To learn what AACE (American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists) has to say about the bill, click here.

DPAC was honored to have Dr. George Grunberger for an Ask An Expert discussion on this bill. You can watch the archived presentation here.

To Full House


The Energy & Commerce Committee “Ordered to be Reported” H.R. 1192 – The National screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-33-37-amDiabetes Clinical Care Commission Act. Reported means sent to the full house for a vote. As you can see in the chronology to the right, things are moving fast. Now is the time to ask your congress member to vote for diabetes.  

You can read AACE’s press release in response to the Energy and Commerce vote here. The bill seeks to coordinate the federal response to diabetes through a limited time commission. This commission is an approach that proved successful a generation ago, leading to trials that proved the value of tight control. Advances in diabetes medications and devices are an opportunity to be successful coordinating innovative diabetes care again.

Keep the momentum going.  A bipartisan majority of the House has cosponsored the bill, ask them to vote.


Learn more about theThe National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act here.

This Just In: Diabetes Coordination Bill “Marked Up”


The Health subcommittee of the Energy & Commerce Committee took key steps this screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-1-10-53-pmweek on  H.R.1192 – The National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act. They marked it up and sent it to the full committee for consideration.

The bill seeks to coordinate the federal response to diabetes through a limited time commission. This commission is an approach that proved successful a generation ago, leading to trials that proved the value of tight control. Advances in diabetes medications and devices are an opportunity to be successful coordinating innovative diabetes care again.

This is progress.  Currently, a bipartisan majority of the House has cosponsored the bill. Now is the time to ask for action.


Learn more about theThe National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act here.

Guest Post: Lisa Laird – Why Diabetes Educators Licensure?

On May 23 the Pennsylvania House Professional Licensure will meet on House Bill 1851, Licensure of Diabetes Educators. Please share your support if you are in PA.

DPAC_LisaLpngLicensure will optimize patient care for those with diabetes by identifying to the public and your doctor healthcare professionals who have education, training, and experience in diabetes education. People with diabetes benefit from specialized skills which promote behavior change. Often we know what to do but carrying out those behaviors require training in how to look at goals and the necessary support to reach them.

Who are diabetes educators?

We do not discourage licensed nurses, registered dietitians, and pharmacists, etc. from teaching patients with diabetes skills to enhance their care. With such an epidemic, all healthcare providers are needed to help. Licensure could provide a legal scope of practice to gather a wide range of healthcare professionals under one umbrella of practice. This will legally define what care is given by the LDE, and safeguard the public. Today, any person can call themselves a diabetes educator, give advice or care without accountability. Tell me, who do you want teaching your family and loved ones?

Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) is a proven effective method of sharing self-care behaviors with patients and families. It is your right to attend if you receive Medicare. Risk-reducing behaviors are taught. Consider attending along your journey if you have diabetes or know someone who does.

Please support House Bill 1851 to ensure those who call themselves diabetes educators have met the qualifications to do so.

Thank you,

Lisa Laird, RN, BSN, CDE

Past Chair, Pennsylvania AADE Coordinating Body


DPAC – ACT NOW. Pennsylvanians ask your representatives in Harrisburg to support House Bill 1851

Other PA Opportunities

About Lisa: Lisa Laird, RN, BSN, CDE
Past Chair, Pennsylvania AADE Coordinating Body, 2014 and 2015

Following a decade of work as a diabetes nurse educator, two of her four children were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The application of evidence into practice affects her and her teaching profoundly. Lisa works in staff development where she teaches different healthcare disciplines, diabetes care, and consults with patients and families as inpatients. Lisa engages in policy writing and process improvement working to advance the model of healthcare delivery.

National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act

PrintImagine gathering 37 people in a room to work on a problem.

Each get a piece of paper with the name of a disease written at the top and special assignments for that person. Those assignments could be to raise awareness, build and implement a screening program for potential patients, provide funding for clinical programs, and decide what new programs should be developed.

Imagine now that while the 37 people could talk to each other and share their ideas, it’s not required. In fact, they don’t need to talk with each other at all, even if they have the same assignments. (And some of them do have the same assignments!) They leave the room and sit in their own offices, scattered throughout a city, creating their own programs, even if they overlap.

And then imagine that no one is in charge. 

emptyroomThat’s what is happening today with the 35 federal agencies that are working (not always together) with patients, practitioners, and payors of diabetes products, services, and programs.

The National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act of 2015 seeks to change this, putting a commission together for better diabetes care. It would assess existing programs, looking for overlaps and gaps, and advise on the overall care options for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, and the conditions associated with diabetes.

Once enacted, it would create a commission of diabetes experts including medical professionals that treat patients with diabetes, diabetes patient advocates, and representatives from the federal agencies  involved in diabetes care and programs. This commission would be formed under the department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

Why does this bill need to pass?

One in three Medicare dollars is spent on people with diabetes. 35 agencies not coordinating. There’s a lot of work being duplicated and more that aren’t being done at all. There are currently no true patient representation. Patients should be at every table, advocating for access, safety, and quality of the services and programs those impacted with diabetes, now and in the future, should receive.

The Health Omnibus Programs Extension (HOPE) Act of 1988  (see H.R.2881 – National Commission on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Act, which was folded into the Hope Act of 1988) established an AIDS Commission. This commission provided insight, recommendations, and a targeted strategy for the AIDS epidemic. It was needed then.

It is needed now for diabetes. We need another commission for the diabetes epidemic. A generation ago, a commission for diabetes was created and from it, the DCCT and the concept of managed control revolutionized diabetes care. With a new generation of medications, devices, and innovations, it’s time to coordinate care again.

The National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act of 2015 would do this. Let your Congressional representative know this by taking action now with just a few clicks with DPAC.


We Need A Hearing on Diabetes

ACT NOW: to ask Congress for a Hearing on Diabetes.

In the five years since the last hearing on diabetes held in Congress, the number of Americans diagnosed with prediabetes has increased to 86 million, the cost of diabetes care in the U.S. has exploded to $322 billion annually, and without Congressional leadership, this epidemic will wreak financial havoc on our healthcare system.

A new hearing is needed to focus on the current untenable and unstable financial path caused by unbridled diabetes costs and explore potential legislative resolutions. There are existing bills in Congress offering savings measures to stem this epidemic with diabetes prevention programs. See our scorecard for details. There is no better time to investigate and take action.

Untangle Federal Agencies

ACT NOW: To Ask Congress members to sponsor the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act

Here is why:

Diabetes is a significant problem for our nation. It touches the lives of thirty million Americans. Living well with diabetes requires individuals to make healthy changes to the status quo.

The government needs to make a healthy change too. Diabetes consumes one in three Medicare dollars. Beyond Medicare, the government has responded to diabetes with efforts by more than three dozen different federal agencies. Those of us living with diabetes know these agencies can be a tangle of crossed responsibility that is a missed opportunity for communication and collaboration. Helping Americans live well with diabetes will require the government to change the status quo of agencies working alone, to a coordinated national response.

The new commission that H.R.1192 creates will focus on diabetes activities and help the federal government to better address the disease, in a fiscally responsible and effective manner. The act is budget neutral, and prior experience suggest this commission can have a significant positive impact on care. The journal “Diabetes Care,” June 1994 highlights the success of the National Diabetes Advisory Board, including the pivotal Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) that has defined modern diabetes care.

The coming years promise new device and medication innovations that can be as pivotal as DCCT. Coordinating the federal response to these innovations will help millions of Americans.

ACT NOW: Ask your elected officials to sponsor the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act.

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