U.S. Senators Collins, Shaheen Urge Medicare to Ensure Coverage for Lifesaving Diabetes Treatments

Senator Collins and Shaheen are the Co-Chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Co-Chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, sent a bipartisan letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt today urging him to provide Medicare coverage for lifesaving, clinically appropriate treatment for diabetes. Senators Collins and Shaheen have consistently fought to increase funding for diabetes research and to promote better health care for people with diabetes.

Insulin-dependent Medicare beneficiaries rely on therapies such as continuous glucose monitors, which can provide real-time readings and data about blood glucose levels, as well as patch pumps, which provide continuous insulin delivery from a patch, to help manage their disease. While many of these treatments are covered by private insurance, Medicare does not cover these devices. As a result, many individuals with diabetes must begin paying for these lifesaving devices out-of-pocket when they age into Medicare.

“Effective management of diabetes is crucial to our efforts to hold down health care costs, and helping seniors to manage their diabetes successfully can allow them to continue to live healthier and more productive lives,” Senators Collins and Shaheen wrote. “We continue to be surprised and troubled that insulin-dependent Medicare beneficiaries are being denied coverage for diabetes therapies that are available to people with private health insurance… We urge you to work expeditiously to ensure that Medicare coverage polices encourage rather than discourage clinically appropriate treatment, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and to review the procedures at CMS that have resulted in these disparities in coverage.”

Senators Collins and Shaheen introduced the Medicare CGM Access Act of 2015 to create a separate benefit category under Medicare for the continuous glucose monitor and to require coverage of the device for individuals meeting certain medical criteria.

Diabetes affects nearly 30 million Americans nationwide, and it has been estimated that the number of Americans living with the disease will double and the related health care costs will nearly triple by 2035. Since Senator Collins founded the Senate Diabetes Caucus in 1997, funding for diabetes research has more than tripled from $319 million in 1997 to more than a billion dollars in 2016.