Diabetes: Search for safety, quality and access collides in bid markets

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

As a parent of two children with Type 1 diabetes, and fighting a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes himself, Bennet Dunlap is all for lower cost testing supplies. However, that shouldn’t come at the higher cost of hospitalizations, complications and patient mortality, he says. Dunlap, president of the newly launched Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group for diabetes patients, recently spoke with HME News about his concerns with Medicare’s competitive bidding program.

HME News: What is DPAC’s mission?

Bennet Dunlap: We want to engage in three broad areas: safety, quality and access. A few years back, scientific journals were saying some glucose meters on the market were failing to deliver the accuracy standards for which they were approved. That leads to people dosing too much or too little insulin. The quality issue overlaps that safety issue quite a bit and now it’s becoming an access issue. We would like people to have access to the higher quality devices.

HME: What did you think of a recent study that found access issues for Medicare beneficiaries in Round 1 bid areas?

Dunlap: I am concerned that the whole impetus for bidding was to save money. There needs to be a value component. Medicare has said there are no problems, they’re saving money and everything’s great. But the (study) suggested that, in those markets, there were increased hospitalizations and increased mortality. 

HME: And that results in higher costs to the healthcare system?

Dunlap: On the one hand, you say you are saving money. On the other hand, for every dollar you save, you spend more money on hospitalizations and complications. That teeter-totter doesn’t balance.