I’m not going to sugar-coat this for you, even though this is a diabetes blog.

We’re at the point where this is untenable.

For the past five years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been conducting a grand experiment, opening up competitive bidding on a wide range of necessities for People With Diabetes who have Medicare as their primary healthcare partner (hint: that’s 11 million U.S. citizens over the age of 65). They have been told as far back as three years ago by nurses, educators, and patients themselves that competitive bidding endangers the lives of senior citizens with diabetes, but they keep ignoring the warnings.

There’s a new publication in Diabetes Care, the peer-review journal of the American Diabetes Association, that shows that competitive bidding is an abject failure at all levels.

Wait… why is competitive bidding bad, you may ask? Isn’t it better if we get the best price for the products we need?

Let’s answer the second question first, and the first question second: It is imperative for seniors living with diabetes to pay the lowest price possible for the healthcare, devices, and drugs that will help them live the best they can through their golden years. To answer the first question, yes, competitive bidding is very bad, and there is proof it is bad, and that proof is being ignored by CMS, and that must stop.

Let me give you a simple example: I use a BG meter made by Ajax Corporation (not a real BG meter maker—remember, this is an example). It works pretty well, pretty accurate, and I’m nearly out of test strips for my existing meter. But now, Ajax lost out on the latest round of competitive bidding, and I now have to use a meter made by Acme Corporation. That means, as a senior on Medicare, I have to go get a prescription for the new meter, find the new meter and test strips, pay for them, and learn how to use the new meter. Immediately.

What do you think the chances are that 11 million people are going to be able to do that easily?

Let’s face it: they aren’t.

Which means some of them won’t, which means some of them won’t be checking their BGs, which means some of them will wind up in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), where a best-case scenario is a stay of days in the facility, costing Medicare thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, more than the continued cost of strips for a meter the patient was comfortable with in the first place. All because of the competitive bidding process.

And that’s only one example. Pissed off yet?

Good. Here’s what you can do: Use the Easy button.
CLICK HERE NOW and go to the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition to help add your voice to the growing #suspendbidding chorus demanding an end to competitive bidding until CMS is called to answer for this destructive practice before a congressional hearing.

I promise you, it will take less than1 minute for you to let your House representative and both your Senators know that the CMS competitive bidding process is dangerous and deadly.

CLICK HERE NOW. I will be Medicare eligible in 11 years. Let’s end this process before I’m eligible in 10.

If you have any questions, please let me know by using the E-mail Stephen link in the upper left corner of this page.

Living with diabetes or not, we… I… don’t want your help with this. I need it.


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  • Ally  On April 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    It all goes back to that all-important aspect- choice- that we should want to protect in American healthcare. Sure, a cheap meter sounds good on paper. Promises to cut costs as you describe but then does the opposite when really examined, as you described. Also brings up safety and comfortability concerns. If senior X trusts his current meter, why should he be forced by the system to switch to a cheaper, less reliable one? Etc. etc. etc. It’s one thing that really concerns me with our current healthcare system. If it’s our money and we want to pay for a certain level of quality, I don’t want someone else dictating that for me. Ever. Granted, some of that choice does get taken when using a government entity for supplies, but there still has to be a level of patient choice involved if we want people to live well.


    • StephenS  On April 7, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks Ally!


      • Ally  On April 8, 2016 at 10:55 am

        You’re welcome. I feel better having vented there! Just really concerned for where all of this is going long term. Thank you for elevating the issue here.


  • rickphilips  On April 7, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    I am troubled by how much this CMS program is changing the entire market. As cost becomes the only criteria for supplies, then manufacturers have little reason to improve quality. True it only applies to medicare but if a manufacturer or supplier cannot compete in the medicare market it seems unlikely they will be available to compete in the wider market.

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of April 4, 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  • seejendance  On April 8, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    It’s stuff like this that challenges my preferences for health insurance’s future. For example, I’m a big supporter of the Single Payer Health Care system as a theory. It’s something that will be there so I don’t have to worry about what an employer offers. (Or what my spouse’s plan offers.) But, then you run into challenges like this where cool, you have health care guaranteed via your taxes, but you still can’t get what you need to live and thrive. (Vs. merely existing.)

    Liked by 1 person

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