On August 27, the Congressional Diabetes Caucus sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies (CMS) asking them to respond to the Caucus’s earlier letter addressing the accuracy of diabetes testing supplies.

This letter isn’t the first one.

The Congressional Diabetes Caucus, led by Congressman Reed and Congresswoman DeGette, first wrote to CMS in December of 2017. They asked then-Acting Secretary of HHS Eric Hargan to look into how accurate commonly used blood glucose meters were. The question was based off a report from the Office of the Inspector General which found that 61% (!) of test strips furnished to Medicare beneficiaries failed the study’s accuracy standards. The Caucus’s December letter asked Acting Secretary to look into what steps CMS and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were taking to make sure Medicare beneficiaries were receiving products that actually work. It also urged the Secretary to take action to implement and enforce produce performance standards for testing supplies.

Acting Secretary Hargan responded to the Caucus’s letter in January of 2018, but the response was pretty lackluster. The response letter outlined steps that FDA was taking to ensure product reliability, but did not go into any steps that CMS is taking to protect beneficiaries. In fact, in the response, Acting Secretary Hargan wrote that “to date [CMS] hs not detected any negative trends.” We find this difficult to believe since having inaccurate blood glucose readings can lead to incorrect medication dosing and have dangerous consequences. 

DPAC has been working on this issue for a while.The CEO of DPAC, Christel Marchand Aprigliano, gave expert testimony on Capitol Hill on July 20th, 2017 in support of bill H.R. 3271, helping to protect access to accurate meters for people on Medicare using the National Mail Order program. (There’s a separate article discussing Christel’s testimony and H.R. 3271 in detail) H.R. 3271 was rolled up into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, so now CMS has to comply with providing enhanced reporting that will aid Congress and CMS in ensuring beneficiaries are receiving the diabetic testing supplies they need to manage their condition. This was a huge win, but the work is never done!

What’s new:

This follow up letter doesn’t let CMS off the hook. The Congressional Diabetes Caucus wrote that they “find it disconcerting that the agency tasked with ensuring that the nation’s elderly and disabled have access to quality healthcare items be satisfied with the furnishing of blood glucose test systems that clearly fail accuracy standards.” The letter asked CMS to “take immediate steps to ensure that CMS puts into place adequate safeguards to protect the lives and safety of Medicare beneficiaries.”

You can read the full letter here. Diabetes Caucus Letter Aug 2018

Send a thank you to the Congressional Diabetes Caucus!

We’re so glad that the Caucus is not settling for the dissatisfying answers CMS provided. This issue is extremely important as lack of access to accurate testing supplies could lead to disastrous consequences for beneficiaries. Join us in thanking the leaders of the Caucus by clicking below!

Click here to send a thank you Tweet to Reps. Reed and DeGette (Co-Chairs of the Caucus) and Reps. Brooks, Ruiz, Jenkins, and DelBene (Vice-Chairs of the Caucus)!