As we recognize another World Diabetes Day this November 14th, I am pleased to spread the message on this year’s critical theme – A right to a healthy future for women.
This is an appeal on behalf of our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, and women everywhere, who have to confront the ever-increasing risks of this growing pandemic.
The International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) advocates that “all women with diabetes require affordable and equitable access to care and education to better manage their diabetes and improve their health outcomes.”[i]
Consider these facts published by the IDF, and I think we can all agree with this sense of urgency for improving access and affordability:
- Almost 200 million women are living with diabetes today.
- There is projected to be 313 million women with diabetes by the year 2040.
- 40% of all women with diabetes are of reproductive age – which is well over 60 million women worldwide.
- Women with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of early miscarriage or having a baby with malformations.
- Women with type 2 diabetes are almost 10 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than women without the condition.[i]
These statistics should be alarming, but for me, there is one major issue affecting diabetes care for women that deserves the greatest attention and the most immediate call to action - the frightening decrease in access to diabetes care created by the Medicare Competitive Bid process.
- Before the national implementation of Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) in July 2013, there were over 1,000 diabetic supply providers that offered diabetic testing supplies to the elderly and lower income population. Currently, there are only FOUR durable medical equipment companies (DMEs) contracted – a 99% collapse in available suppliers.
- While we all agree with making health care affordable, the best intentions of Competitive Bidding have made access to quality care a severe crisis for our most vulnerable citizens. By lowering the cost of diabetes test strips from $34 to $8.32, reputable suppliers would have turned down the contract had they been awarded it because of the enormous losses they would have incurred, and the quality of the products and related care offered by the few providers remaining is a huge question mark.[ii]
- For lower income people, affordable care is driven by the Medicaid or CHIP programs whose reimbursement rates are typically based on a discount off of Medicare rates. With Medicare rates so ridiculously low due to this baffling Competitive Bid process, the Medicaid rates become even more unsustainable. Due to these extremely low reimbursement rates, studies have shown a dramatic reduction in access to testing supplies for the poor, the elderly and various ethnic communities. In these segments, it is the women who are no doubt most profoundly affected by this crisis of care.
For our part, CCS Medical and other providers are working within Washington D.C. to change this process and make the rates more sensible. Please help us by contacting your congressmen and senators and encouraging everyone you know to apply the same pressure. It can be as simple as one sentence in a phone call, email or letter: “Please work to reform Medicare’s Competitive Bid Process so that women have access to affordable diabetes care.”
This World Diabetes Day, let’s make a pledge to make diabetes care affordable and accessible for our mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, and for women everywhere.