Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Push with Collins, Smith & Sinema for Admin to Expand Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Amid COVID-19 Crisis

May 06, 2020

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) led a bipartisan push today to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting additional flexibilities for Medicare beneficiaries who need diabetes self-management training (DSMT) services during the COVID-19 outbreak. DSMT helps educate people with diabetes on how to manage their blood sugar, prepare insulin and maintain healthy eating and lifestyle. Access to these services is all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people with diabetes are especially at risk for hospitalizations and complications.

The Senators wrote, “Since 2003, Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes have been able to access DSMT courses that help educate individuals on how to manage their diabetes. Training provided through DSMT includes education on healthy eating and lifestyle, monitoring blood sugar, insulin preparation, adherence to drug regimens and steps for reducing risks for adverse medical events. Improved management of diabetes, including better control of hemoglobin A1c levels can help ensure better health outcomes for people with diabetes and reduce their risk for hospitalization. Given the potential for exposure to COVID-19 during a hospital stay and the unique risks that COVID19 poses to Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, it is absolutely critical to leverage DSMT as a part of a multi-pronged effort to reduce hospitalization risks for people with diabetes.”

The Senators went on to applaud CMS for heeding a bipartisan call that Shaheen helped lead to modify guidelines and bring Medicare reimbursements for audio telehealth services in line with Medicare visual telehealth services during the public health crisis. Shaheen, Collins, Smith and Sinema used this modification as an example of a necessary change to ensure those who need care the most amid this crisis receive it. They urged CMS to take this into consideration for modifying guidelines that impact Americans with diabetes and the need for DSMT services. The Senators called on CMS to ensure that individuals with diabetes can access DSMT services through the broadest possible range of qualified health care providers, and to continue expanding the definition of eligible professionals providing telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Concluding, the Senators requested that CMS waive a timeline requirement for coverage of DSMT education in a given year during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure Medicare beneficiaries who have diabetes continue to have access to services that are vital to management of their conditions without having to risk exposure to COVID-19.

The letter can be read in full here.

 

Shaheen and Collins -- co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus -- led the Senate effort that would require CMS to expand Medicare coverage of DSMT sessions beyond the current hour limits that CMS has put in place. In a letter last month to CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Shaheen and a group of Senators urged the agencies to protect at-risk Medicare beneficiaries and ensure access to potentially life-saving services by allowing for the full participation of CDC-recognized virtual providers in the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) for at least the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.