Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced the “Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act” (H.R. 3271), which would strengthen protections for Medicare beneficiaries who buy blood glucose testing supplies through the National Mail Order Competitive Bidding Program.
DeGette and Reed are the co-chairs of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus; Brooks serves as its vice-chair.
“At a time when Medicare and American health care in general are topics of contentious discussions in Washington and across the country, this bipartisan effort is something everyone can support,” DeGette said. “It will ensure that seniors who have diabetes are able to get quality test strips that are compatible with their glucose monitors. Diabetic patients often rely on test strips to read glucose levels accurately and dose medication appropriately. By making sure seniors can get test strips that work, this bill will deliver better health outcomes for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.”
“I am proud to have worked on and introduced the Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act with Representatives DeGette and Reed,” said Brooks. “This important bipartisan bill will give thousands of Hoosiers who face the daily challenges of living with diabetes the freedom to choose which blood glucose test works best for them.”
“We must make sure that diabetic seniors have access to quality health care supplies,” Reed said. “Working across the aisle to deliver access to those who rely on test strips is a top priority for me. The protections will ensure Medicare patients have a choice when it comes to finding supplies that best fit the needs of their individual medical conditions.”
In establishing the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program (CBP), Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services included rules intended to ensure that seniors would continue to have access to the blood glucose test systems of their choice. Unfortunately, several rounds of the CBP have revealed significant shortcomings in these protections. The Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act would address these shortcomings so that in future CBP rounds, beneficiaries have access to preferred and familiar test systems.
This bill would strengthen enforcement of current law requirements that suppliers in the CBP must include at least 50 percent of the types of test systems that were on the market before the CBP’s implementation. It would also bolster consumer protections that prohibit suppliers from encouraging beneficiaries to switch from one testing system to another, and ensure that seniors are fully aware of their rights to receive test strips that meet their needs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 11 million Americans age 65 and older have diabetes, nearly 26 percent of the Medicare population.