Thursday, December 02, 2010

Call to Action: Medicare Cuts to Diabetes Testing Supplies is Penny-wise, and Pound-foolish

My fellow d-blogger colleague Wil (a.k.a. "Lee," which is short for "Liam," which in turn is short for William), although I knew him by his original d-blogging title "Printcrafter" (from about 7 years ago or more) until I met him personally about 2 years ago over at LifeAfterDx--CGM Chronicles had an important post on his blog yesterday (see HERE) that I hope my readers will act upon quickly.

We all know that the Tea-Baggers (Oh, I meant Tea Party activists who were predominantly social conservatives but never traditionally known for their fiscal conservatism) are now suddenly hell-bent on slashing deficits. The irony of course is that they've suddenly become born-again fiscal conservatives after 9 years of spending money wrecklessly that the U.S. did not have on 2 wars and burgeois tax cuts that brought the economy to it's knees -- although as a progressive, I don't really believe in proselytizing). Anyway, this newfound fiscal conservatism will play out in a variety of ways, not necessarily massive cuts to eligibility for social programs or even program elimination that costs the country so much, but in selective trimming. One of the areas being proposed is Medicare's coverage for self-monitoring of blood glucose testing supplies. The current criteria is defined, but enables doctors to obtain overrides when it is medically necessary, but that could change if new criteria is adopted.

As Wil notes, the issue is that whatever Medicare does, this has traditionally been used by private healthcare insurers as well, so while the U.S. does not have a government-run healthcare system that covers all citizens, the politically untouchable, massive government-run plan for senior citizens still has huge influence beyond those directly covered, and for that, we should be worried.

You should really read Wil's piece, again the link can be found at

I generally find Wil's writing to be written for the layperson, but he did mention a few items that I had no clue what he meant by them, one of which is LCD. Will writes:

"Medicare rule would absolutely fix diabetes testing supplies at one strip per day for folks who pop pills and two strips per day for those of us who shoot up.
No exceptions."

After some head-scratching in confusion on what LCD meant, I did find that the term LCD means "local coverage determinations" (hence the acronym "LCD"). I can't really elaborate too much other than to say that I highly recommend you call your representatives in Congress and at least tell them you think it's a bad idea. Also, if you want some fancy presentation on Medicare coverage, I discovered a presentation HERE which you might wish to have a closer look at.

The bottom line is this: no matter how much budget cuts may appear to make sense, these cuts are not wise in the long-run, as they prevent adequate glycemic control, which may result in bigger expenses to Medicare in the long-run thanks to costly (and largely preventable) diabetes complications. While private healthcare insurance does not have the same long-term outlook, Medicare (which is funded by taxpayer dollars) certainly does. Call your legislators today and let them know this!

Wil recommends doing what Dr. Steven Edelman of TCOYD fame suggests: call the Congressional Switchboard at 1-866-220-0044. If you give them your zip code they'll connect you with your Senator's office. Each Senator has a Healthcare Liaison whom you should speak with.


First aid kits said...

no matter how much budget cuts may appear to make sense, these cuts are not wise in the long-run, as they prevent adequate glycemic control,it is really a good point.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

While I agree with your sentiments and I hate to go off topic, but why are you blaming the tea party? They are a network of newly formed, sprawling organizations whose common goal IS fiscal conservatism. Nine years? Traditionally? What????

Malcolm Mackay said...

2 strips per day for insulin-dependent diabetics? The people who have proposed this need education. I doubt they know what diabetes is or what it can do.

Senior said...

I definitely agree with you Malcolm mackay. Besides here in our country there are about 7 million people undiagnosed of diabetes. This is a killer disease. The needed medication for this shouldn't be limit.