Diabetes group calls on Congress to #SuspendBidding

Friday, April 8, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. – With drastically reduced payment amounts for diabetes test strips looming, advocates have taken to social media to call for a suspension of Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

“I think that social media has become what used to be the town square,” said Bennet Dunlap, co-founder of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition. “So, hopefully, social media can do some social good.”

DPAC last week launched a campaign calling for the immediate suspension of competitive bidding for diabetes testing supplies. The patient advocacy group has created the Suspend Bidding Action Center (www.diabetespac.org/suspendbidding) for site visitors to learn more about the issue, and help them to email their lawmakers and tweet members of Congress using the hashtag #SuspendBidding.

CMS on *March 15 announced single payment amounts for the Round 2 re-compete of competitive bidding, as well as the national mail-order program for diabetes supplies. The new payment amount for test strips is *$8.32 per box compared to $10.41 per box for the original Round 2.

“I hope people will feel concerned enough to say, ‘I don’t have all the details, but hey, Congress, let’s get some experts in there and look into this in the meantime,’” said Dunlap.

Although CMS says there has been no disruption in access to diabetes supplies as a result of payment reductions, a *study by the National Minority Quality Forum, first presented in June and recently published in the prestigious medical journal Diabetes Care, found not only decreased access, but also increased hospitalizations and deaths in test markets.

“My fear is that as we drive the price down, we drive quality out of the market,” said Dunlap. “Price conscious buyers will buy the cheapest strips and insulin is a very dangerous drug.”

DPAC joins a number of organizations calling for a suspension of the program, including the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council (NDVLC).

*DPAC is a non-profit advocacy group for diabetes patients that launched in 2015.