Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Co-Chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus, applauded the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) announcement this evening that Medicare will now support the use of smartphone apps in conjunction with continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). Senators Collins and Shaheen sent a letter to Administrator Seema Verma in March urging CMS to make this change.
For beneficiaries who rely on lifesaving CGM devices, CMS’ new policy will allow them to better manage the disease and share data with family members, physicians, and caregivers. It will also make CGMs more accessible for blind and low-vision diabetics. While CGMs have been covered by Medicare since January 2017, beneficiaries using smartphone applications with these devices had risked losing coverage.
“CMS’ announcement will help unlock the full potential of continuous glucose monitors by allowing the millions of Americans who rely on CGMs to link these lifesaving devices with their smartphones. This powerful tool will improve the safety of Americans with diabetes and help them to successfully manage the disease,” said Senator Collins. “I am so pleased that our advocacy has spurred this change in policy that will help change our country’s future with regard to diabetes and immediately address the explosive growth in the financial and human tolls of this epidemic.”
“I’m pleased the administration heeded our call and will make necessary revisions to Medicare’s coverage policies that will help Americans with type 1 and type 2 diabetes better monitor and manage their health,” said Senator Shaheen. “This specific change to expand Medicare coverage will allow the simultaneous use of smartphone applications with continuous glucose monitoring devices. While this coverage change will benefit all Medicare patients with diabetes, it is a significant improvement to help meet the challenges that blind Americans or those struggling with other visual impairments experience every day. I appreciate the attention to this issue and I’ll continue to work with Senator Collins to ensure the millions of Americans living with diabetes have access to the devices that are critical to their self-care.”
In response to a bipartisan effort spearheaded by Senators Collins and Shaheen, CMS first approved the use of CGMs in January 2017. These proven, lifesaving devices are relied upon by people with diabetes to provide them with real-time measurements of their glucose levels. This information is key to preventing costly and sometimes deadly diabetes complications. Currently, one out of every three Medicare dollars is spent on patients with diabetes.