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Following a Longtime Effort from Senators Collins and Shaheen, Medicare May Now Provide Coverage for New Lifesaving Diabetes Therapies

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, released the following statement after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that new technologies used for the delivery of insulin, such as the Omnipod system, may now be covered under Medicare Part D. 

Insulin-dependent Medicare beneficiaries rely on therapies such as patch pumps, which provide continuous insulin delivery without the need for tubes, to help manage their disease. While such treatments are covered by private insurance, Medicare did not cover these devices. As a result, individuals with diabetes lost coverage for the physician-prescribed therapies they had successfully used to manage their diabetes when they aged into Medicare.

“Today’s announcement will help transform the lives of the millions of Americans who are living with diabetes and rely on continuous insulin delivery devices to successfully manage the disease,” said Senator Collins.  “Most private insurers already cover these proven devices, and it defied common sense that Americans with diabetes would lose this coverage when they qualified for Medicare.  As the founder and co-chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, I am thrilled that CMS responded to our advocacy by removing this unnecessary barrier to this lifesaving and cost-effective therapy.”

“For the millions of Americans living every day with diabetes, this is incredibly encouraging and welcome news,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m very glad that CMS heeded the letter from Senator Collins and me to provide coverage for advanced medical technologies, like the omnipod. Diabetes is one of the most expensive chronic diseases, so it’s critical that the federal government advance affordable options to help those impacted better manage the disease so they can live healthy and productive lives.”

Senators Collins and Shaheen most recently sent a letter to Seema Verma, the Administrator of CMS, urging for an expansion of Medicare coverage policies to include patch pumps and other lifesaving therapies for diabetes. The senators received a response from Administrator Verma on November 28, 2017, agreeing to review the policy.

Additionally, Senator Collins, Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, held a hearing earlier this year that focused on progress that has been made towards developing a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Senator Collins invited Charlie Albair, a 10-year-old Gray, Maine, native, to testify at the hearing. Charlie spoke about how he uses an Omnipod pump in his opening statement.

Diabetes affects nearly 30 million Americans nationwide, and it has been estimated that the number of Americans living with this disease will double and the related health care costs will nearly triple by 2035. Since 1997, funding for diabetes research has more than tripled from $319 million to more than a billion dollars in 2017.

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