Washington, D.C. —U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, introduced legislation to expand seniors’ access to groundbreaking diabetes technologies, such as the artificial pancreas and implantable continuous glucose monitoring systems. The Senators spoke on the Senate floor today to urge their colleagues to support their Improving Medicare Beneficiary Access to Innovative Diabetes Technologies Act, which would encourage the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help seniors access the latest diabetes management technologies that keep them healthy and lower their overall cost of care.
“Technological advances make diabetes easier to manage. The market arrival of cutting-edge diabetes technologies, however, does not immediately benefit patients if older Americans are unable to afford them,” said Senator Collins. “I have heard from numerous seniors who, when transitioning from employer-provided insurance to Medicare, were shocked to learn that the technologies they have relied upon for years to manage their diabetes are no longer covered. For example, one Mainer unfortunately had to face the reality that Medicare’s coverage denial of a particular sensor he needed for his insulin pump meant paying up to $8,000 out-of-pocket each year if he wants to continue with his current treatment regimen. Our bill would help ensure that outdated Medicare coverage criteria does not impede access to technologies that will improve care and reduce costs to the health care system as a whole.”
“My family can empathize with the struggle that millions of others who are impacted by diabetes face, and know all too well the hoops they have to jump through to navigate complex insurance networks to get necessary medical equipment,” said Senator Shaheen. “As co-chair of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, I’m proud to join Senator Collins in introducing bipartisan legislation to help people with diabetes access technology to improve their quality of life. Our legislation would help guide Medicare’s rules so coverage keeps pace with developing diabetes technologies – ensuring no one is priced out of the technology they need to lead healthy lives.”
The Improving Medicare Beneficiary Access to Innovative Diabetes Technologies Act would establish a Special Task Force on Coverage and Payment for Innovative Diabetes Technologies and Services to examine and address barriers that seniors face in accessing the latest diabetes management technologies. The Task Force would report annually, making specific recommendations to the Secretary of HHS and the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on:
· Existing Medicare benefit categories under which innovative diabetes technologies and services should be covered.
· Changes to Medicare statute and changes to regulations and sub-regulatory guidance for existing benefit categories that would be necessary to accommodate coverage and payment of innovative diabetes technologies and services.
· Elimination of other unnecessary burdens that impede access to innovative diabetes technologies and services.
· Proposals for a new benefit category for covering certain technologies and services that cannot otherwise be covered through changes to regulations and sub-regulatory guidance for existing benefit categories and specifications for the new benefit category.
· Proposals to streamline interagency administrative processes through greater FDA and CMS collaboration that would facilitate prompt approval or clearance and coverage of innovative technologies and services for patients with diabetes.
Senators Collins and Shaheen have worked together to increase awareness of the threats posed by diabetes, invest in research, and improve access to treatment options. In response to the Senators’ bipartisan effort, CMS first approved the use of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in January 2017 and allowed Medicare beneficiaries to use smartphone apps in conjunction with continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in June 2018.
In 2019, the Senators introduced a bill to roll back more than a decade of insulin prices hikes, and they have consistently pressed to hold insulin manufacturers, insurers, and PBMs accountable for the skyrocketing cost of life-saving insulin.