Changes could impact blood-testing supplies

The roughly 10.9 million American seniors on Medicare who live with diabetes recently were alerted to new changes that could impact access to their blood-glucose testing supplies.

Many people with diabetes use these supplies — including blood-glucose meters and testing strips — to monitor their blood glucose, also known as “blood sugar.”

Learning to use and maintain a blood-glucose meter usually requires practice, and, over time, patients often become very comfortable with a particular meter.

This is important, because consistent blood-glucose monitoring is critical to help people with diabetes track blood-glucose levels, identify the best approach to control their diabetes, and avoid the potentially serious complications of the disease, a news release stated.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, recently instituted a new program that reduces Medicare reimbursement for certain diabetes-testing supplies.

These changes could limit seniors’ access to their preferred diabetes-testing supplies — those they’re comfortable using and that their doctors recommend. CMS may suggest that patients switch to unfamiliar products, causing confusion or frustration.

Or worse, according to a survey by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, patients who can no longer access the products they’re comfortable using may test their blood-glucose levels less frequently or stop testing altogether, the release stated. This could potentially result in poor blood-glucose control.

Several resources are available to help seniors with diabetes understand and manage the Medicare changes and make it easier for them to access their familiar supplies or, alternatively, find new products that are both appropriate for them and affordable.

The American Diabetes Association —

— provides comprehensive information and guidance regarding the changes. Many blood-glucose testing suppliers provide free training and support services for seniors who either decide to switch products or want to continue using their familiar supplies.