Legislation seeks to protect access to diabetes supplies

Although bid program already requires protections, they are not readily enforced
Thursday, July 20, 2017

WASHINGTON – Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., Susan Brooks, R-Ind., and Tom Reed, R-N.Y., have introduced a bill to ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to their preferred brand of diabetes supplies.

“The Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act,” H.R. 3271, would strengthen protections requiring mail-order contract suppliers to include at least 50% of the types of testing supplies that were available before the implementation of the competitive bidding program. It would also prohibit suppliers from encouraging beneficiaries to switch brands. 

“At a time when Medicare and American health care in general are topics of contentious discussions in Washington and across the country, this bipartisan effort is something everyone can support,” said DeGette in a press release. “It will ensure that seniors who have diabetes are able to get quality test strips that are compatible with their glucose monitors. Diabetic patients often rely on test strips to read glucose levels accurately and dose medication appropriately. By making sure seniors can get test strips that work, this bill will deliver better health outcomes for millions of Medicare beneficiaries.”

Although the bid program already requires protections, they are not readily enforced. A 2016 report from the Office of Inspector General found that two brands of test strips account for half of the mail-order market.

DeGette, along with Reed, is co-chair of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus.

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in the last session.