Sacramento, California - Thursday, a coalition of four leading patient advocacy and health care provider organizations, including the American Diabetes Association (ADA), presented testimony to California lawmakers urging them to ensure people with diabetes who receive their health care coverage from Medi-Cal have access to the life-saving medical technology known as continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). The groups shared the importance of CGM technology CGMs provide critical information needed to more effectively manage diabetes, thus, improving health outcomes and helping to prevent life-threatening complications of diabetes such as cardiovascular and kidney disease.
CGMs monitor blood glucose levels, information that is critical to effective daily diabetes management, and many of the CGMs have alarms to inform patients when blood glucose is exceeding or falling below safe levels. CGMs can help prevent severe hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, which help keep people with diabetes healthier and help reduce the need for urgent treatment in an emergency room or the need for hospitalization.
Assembly Member Adam Gray (D-21) has championed this issue for several years. “Every Democrat and Republican in the State Legislature supports covering CGMs for Medi-Cal patients. We cannot continue to deny the most vulnerable Californians this standard of care. Expanding coverage is a win-win. Patients will experience improved health outcomes and the state will save money by reducing hospitalizations.”
The coalition leading this campaign points to the fact that private insurers and more than 30 other states’ Medicaid programs already cover CGMs for their enrollees. “Unaccountable bureaucrats have stood in the way of this common-sense proposal for long enough,” Assemblyman Gray stated.
More than four million Californians, or one in seven adults, have diabetes. The state of California has the highest level of new cases of diabetes annually in the nation. Unfortunately, diabetes is on the rise with the number of people with disease increasing 32 percent over the past ten years. Diabetes is a leading cause of life-threatening and disabling complications including heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness and death. Diabetes also carries a staggering financial burden. The cost of diagnosed diabetes in California is an estimated $39.5 billion each year, according to the ADA’s most recent “Economic Costs of Diabetes in the U.S. in 2017” report, published last month.
“People with diabetes have health care expenditures that are approximately 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes, and they are more likely to receive their health care from Medicaid programs such as Medi-Cal than people who do not have diabetes,” said the American Diabetes Association’s National Advocacy Committee Vice Chair Francisco Prieto, MD, who is a Sacramento-area physician. “When individuals with diabetes do not have access to the tools and services to effectively manage their diabetes, their health suffers. This puts them at increased risk for complications and impacts their medical costs, which can be up to eight times higher than for an individual with well-controlled or non-advanced diabetes.”
In addition to the ADA, coalition groups participating in this campaign include the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC). The group will continue to work with legislators, state agencies and other stakeholders throughout the session to advance these budget proposals and advocate for coverage of CGMs. To learn more and join this effort, visit https://diabetes.org/cgmca .