Patient Organizations’ Open Letter to UnitedHealth Group

Yesterday a letter was sent to Stephen Hemsley, Chief Executive Officer at UnitedHealth Group about the concerns many diabetes organizations have about UnitedHealth Group’s decision to designate Medtronic as the preferred provider of insulin pumps for their members. Download a PDF of the letter here or read it below:

June 14, 2016

Mr. Stephen Hemsley
Chief Executive Officer
UnitedHealth Group
9900 Bren Road East
Minnetonka, MN 55343

Dear Mr. Hemsley,

We are writing to express our deep concerns with UnitedHealth Group’s recent decision to designate Medtronic as the preferred provider of insulin pumps for UnitedHealthcare Commercial and Community Plan (Medicaid) members starting on July 1, 2016. Our organizations represent millions of people with diabetes and those caring for them, and we understand first hand the complexity of managing diabetes. We ask that UnitedHealthcare reverse this decision that completely removes insulin pump choice.

Patients and their healthcare providers should decide what is best for their clinical needs, not insurance companies or manufacturers. Your policy not only negatively impacts patient access to pump therapy, but it undermines the relationship between the patient and healthcare provider. Despite some very limited exceptions, and the availability of what appears to be burdensome clinical appeals process, UnitedHealth’s actions are taking away patient and provider choice, which is essential in proper disease management. In fact, many patients who are currently having success managing their diabetes with other pumps will be forced to switch to a new pump in the future. Restricting access to diabetes care takes us down a slippery slope; today insulin pumps, tomorrow CGM, in the future the artificial pancreas and other medical technologies.

Today’s health care ecosystem emphasizes putting patients at the center of their own care. Furthermore, Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have also emphasized the importance of patient-focused drug and device development, which seeks to incorporate patient preferences into the development and design of new drugs and medical technologies. In the end, a patient-centered approach seeks to ensure that the needs of patients are met, which is essential to helping keep people healthy; and thereby, reducing overall healthcare costs.

We strongly request that you reconsider this decision, and reinstate a policy that ensures your members living with diabetes have the freedom to choose an insulin pump that meets their individual needs and helps them achieve the best outcome.

Thank you for your attention to this critically important issue to the diabetes community.

see full list of organizations supporting and representing this Open Letter

more about the UnitedHealth decision here


This is a good letter that spells out the concerns that we have as a group.

I think another letter expressing the same sentiment be sent to Medtronic as well. It’s Medtronic, after all, that pressed for exclusivity as part of the agreement. Medtronic business policy is equally to blame for this patient-harmful policy.


Thanks to everyone who contributed to this letter. It’s clear and to the point. I fully agree with @Terry4, Medtronic needs to receive a similar letter.

In addition, we need some networking here with the MSM. Does anyone have any contacts with CBS, NBC, WaPo, NYT, etc?


Also, I see that the typo in the image - PATEINT has been fixed on the DHF site, but you might want to fix it here as well.


I believe it has been now taken care of in all spaces now! Thanks for the feedback!

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The article mentions dexcom. Will UHC start mandating the use of the Enlite sensors as well?

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A man after my own heart! For me, typos are the visual equivalent of someone running their fingernails down a chalkboard… :scream:

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. . . then I urge you to avoid the Statesman-Journal. You’ll save yourself a lot of pain.

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You mean the “Statesman Urinal”? I believe I suffer from some corneal, macular, and retinal erosion caused by the short period of time I read that typo-filled newspaper… :eyes: :eyeglasses:

This letter is so much better than the one written by the JDRF which was so generic as to be completely forgettable. My endo said Medtronic presented a bunch of papers (most likely self funded) to UHC demonstrating the utility of their “threshold suspend” feature on the pump at preventing severe hypoglycemia. Naturally Medtronic did not show any statistics regarding hyperglycemia being caused by faulty Enlite sensor readings or admissions to the hospital of patients in DKA because their pump randomly decided to stop basal insulin delivery based on inaccurate sensor readings. I can count on 1 hand the people I know who use the enlite system and get accurate results. I can count in the 100’s of people who gave up on Medtronic CGM’s and shifted to Dexcom. I am appalled UHC is playing doctor and getting away with it.


I’m actually okay with fingernails running down a chalkboard … makes me think of The Hand in the Addams Family …

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Please use the name correctly. It’s “Salesman Urinal”.

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