Boston – August 25, 2014 – In a letter to United States Senators Susan Collins (R-Me) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John L. Brooks III, President and CEO of Joslin Diabetes Center, expressed Joslin’s strong support for legislation sponsored by the two senators that would extend Medicare coverage to include continuous glucose monitors (CGM).
CGM technology (in which a subcutaneous sensor reports continuous blood glucose measurements to a device that captures and reports that data) has been found to improve the health and well-being of people with type 1 diabetes, prevent costly hospitalizations and reduce the risk of developing complications such as vision loss and kidney failure.
“Virtually all leading diabetes professional societies recommend CGM usage, said Brooks. “Tens of thousands of people with type 1 diabetes rely on CGM, and it is covered by most private health plans.”
But Medicare does not cover this therapy option for people with type 1 diabetes who are using CGM when they age into Medicare plans.
In July 2014, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, introduced legislation that would require Medicare to cover continuous glucose monitors and remove this major access problem for Medicare beneficiaries, who are being deprived of valuable treatment alternatives for diabetes management. The bill is entitled The Medicare CGM Access Act of 2014 (S. 2689).
Following is the text of the letter from President Brooks to Senators Collins and Shaheen:
Dear Senator Collins and Senator Shaheen:
On behalf of the Joslin Diabetes Center and the tens of thousands of patients for whom we and our Joslin Affiliated Centers provide care, I am writing to strongly support, S. 2689, the ‘Medicare CGM Access Act of 2014’. As you know, Medicare does not provide coverage for the continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a physician-prescribed, U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved treatment. Our clinical data clearly demonstrates that use of a CGM reduces low blood sugars because of hypoglycemic unawareness, delays and prevents long-term complications and greatly improves patients’ and families’ quality of life. Passage of this legislation is especially important for the Joslin Medalists, a group of people who have had diabetes for at least 50 years.
Virtually all leading diabetes professional societies recommend CGM usage and it is covered by most private health plans. Your thoughtfully crafted legislation would provide Medicare coverage for CGMs and also help advance development of the artificial pancreas where the CGM is a critical component. CGM use improves control and saves money – both in the short and long-term.
Many Americans aging into the Medicare program are successfully managing their diabetes using a CGM – an essential piece of their prescribed treatment plan. These patients will lose access to this care without Medicare coverage on the day they become Medicare beneficiaries. Additionally, many people now on Medicare should be using a CGM but are unable to afford it. The CGM enables them to maximize time spent in a healthy blood sugar range while minimizing incidents of dangerous hypoglycemia, something our health care teams see increasing among older adults with diabetes.
Your legislation is consistent with a core goal of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - strengthening the Medicare program for all beneficiaries and encouraging innovation. It also provides a pathway for coverage of artificial pancreas systems when they are approved for use in the clinical care setting. They will make managing Type 1 diabetes safer, easier and simpler and will be life changing for the T1D community.
Joslin appreciates your strong leadership by introducing S. 2689 which will have a positive impact on the millions of people living with Type 1 diabetes. Thank you for taking a stand and we look forward to working with you in helping improve the lives of the millions of people living with diabetes.
John L. Brooks, III
President and CEO
Joslin Diabetes Center