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!


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