The following is a guest post by one of our friends at HCM Strategists, who are working hard to collect patient voices and stories about how important it is for Medicare to cover continuous glucose monitors. If you are interested in joining this effort please contact them!
Chances are you know someone who uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). CGMs (as the name implies) provide a nearly continuous readout of glucose levels in your tissue fluid via a long-lasting sensor just under your skin (similar to the needle sticks we all know, only in this case, the needle stays in). The device measures glucose levels and electronically submits the results to a small receiving device about the size of a pager or, if you’re more tech savvy, to your phone, and/or your caregivers phone.
For most users, CGMs can make managing their diabetes considerably easier. You can see your results in real time, and the systems have built-in alarms that let you know when you’re getting close to a preset high or low limit. Put another way, instead of individual snapshots of your health, you’re provided with high-definition streaming video.
Of course CGMs aren’t for everyone, but for many people – especially someone who is aging with diabetes – it can save a great deal of time and frustration and can even save lives. Unfortunately, access to these devices for anyone over 65 is difficult and costly; despite the fact that most private insurers cover CGMs, Medicare does not.
Think about that – at a time when the technology could be the most beneficial, it’s taken off the table for those who can’t afford it. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are more than 10 million adults over 65 diagnosed with diabetes in the United States - instead of that high-definition streaming video, we’re asking this most vulnerable population to resort to Polaroids. That’s not fair.
Luckily Congress has introduced legislation that would require Medicare to cover CGMs. The “Medicare CGM Access Act of 2015” has broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, but more legislators signing on can help get it across the finish line. Please take just two minutes and visit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s page and send a letter to your Senators. The site will provide you with talking points for your email. Let’s raise our collective voices and help those who need CGMS.
For those of you who use CGMs and who live in the states listed below, your personal story can be a powerful tool in helping to advance this legislation. You Senator sits on the powerful Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over the pending legislation. If you are willing to share your story, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you to craft it and get it to your Senator.