Group seeks halt to Medicare bidding for diabetes supplies

In the wake of a peer-reviewed study that questions the efficacy of the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program, the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition is calling on CMS and/or Congress to suspend the program immediately.

Diabetes supplies suspend-act640x200actEven as presidential candidates in both major parties call for Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a diabetes advocacy group wants an immediate halt to price-based Medicare bidding for diabetes supplies.

The Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, a Tampa, Florida-based organization, wants the Congress or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to suspend diabetes purchases under the Competitive Bidding Program for durable medical equipment. CMS phased in the program starting in 2011 in order to save money, but a recent peer-reviewed study raises questions.

A study published online last month in the journal Diabetes Care said that patients in need of the full gamut of supplies for self-monitoring of blood glucose often could not get the supplies in a timely manner under the bidding program. This, according to the researchers, brought “associated increases in mortality, inpatient admissions and costs.”

These results did not sit well with the DPAC. “This new study shows that the bidding program is causing confusion, diminishing access to high-quality supplies and that, in turn, is leading to needless suffering and, unfortunately, to unnecessary deaths,” organization co-founder Christel Marchand Aprigliano said in a statement.

“It is outrageous that CMS continues to ignore the data and the pleas of Medicare beneficiaries across the nation,” added the other co-founder, Bennet Dunlap. “It is past time for members of Congress to exercise their oversight responsibilities and suspend this program immediately.”

Congress authorized the Competitive Bidding Program in the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. Ironically, that’s the same law that prohibits CMS from negotiating the prices of prescription drugs under Medicare Part D.

The DPAC is directing supporters to a new “action center” on its website. That page states: “The Medicare Competitive Bidding Program must be suspended until a full and complete investigation can be completed and assurance made that people with diabetes are safe.”

Photo: Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition