Senator Collins, Bipartisan Group Push for Expanded Access to Critical Resources for Seniors with Diabetes Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting expanded access to vital informational resources that can help Medicare beneficiaries better manage their diabetes during the current public health crisis. Diabetes self-management training (DSMT) helps educate people with diabetes on how to manage their blood sugar, prepare insulin, and maintain healthy eating and lifestyles. Access to these services is all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as individuals with diabetes are especially at risk for hospitalizations and complications. 

 

“Since 2003, Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes have been able to access DSMT courses that help educate individuals on how to manage their diabetes,” the Senators wrote. “Training provided through DSMT includes education on healthy eating and lifestyle, monitoring blood sugar, insulin preparation, adherence to drug regimens and steps for reducing risks for adverse medical events. Improved management of diabetes, including better control of hemoglobin A1c levels can help ensure better health outcomes for people with diabetes and reduce their risk for hospitalization.”

 

“Given the potential for exposure to COVID-19 during a hospital stay and the unique risks that COVID-19 poses to Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, it is absolutely critical to leverage DSMT as a part of a multi-pronged effort to reduce hospitalization risks for people with diabetes,” the Senator continued.

 

Following a bipartisan letter sent by 37 Senators including Senators Collins, Shaheen, Smith, and Sinema, CMS modified guidelines and increased Medicare reimbursement for audio and visual telehealth services during this pandemic. Using this modification as an example, the Senators urged CMS to ensure that individuals with diabetes can access DSMT services through the broadest possible range of qualified health care providers, and to continue expanding the definition of eligible professionals providing telehealth services during this public health emergency. 

 

Additionally, the Senators requested that CMS waive a timeline requirement for coverage of DSMT education during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure Medicare beneficiaries who have diabetes continue to have access to services that are vital to helping to manage their conditions without having to risk exposure to COVID-19.

 

Senators Collins and Shaheen, the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, led the Senate effort that would require CMS to expand Medicare coverage of DSMT sessions beyond the current hour limits that CMS has put in place.  

 

Click HERE to read the full letter.