A new report published by the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) is sharply critical of the Medicare competitive bidding program (CBP) for diabetes testing equipment and supplies. The report reinforces findings of a survey of competitive bidding suppliers conducted by AADE in 2011.
The 2011 survey found that the contract suppliers, on average, offered only 38 percent of the products that are listed on www.medicare.gov. In some cases, suppliers offered products that were not listed on www.medicare.gov. The results also demonstrated that beneficiaries in competitive bidding areas do not have access to most brands available in the market, or to brands most commonly prescribed by physicians and selected by beneficiaries. Of the 9 brands identified in a December 2010 report as the top mail order diabetes testing supply brands by percent of market share, contract suppliers offered an average of 1.44 brands (16%).
The competitive bidding program for mail-order suppliers of diabetes testing equipment was established in January 2011. Soon after, widespread anecdotal reports suggested that the suppliers were denying access to the specific brands and types of equipment that had been promised would be available on Medicare.gov.
The National Minority Quality Forum (The Forum) lists itself as a Washington, DC–based not-for-profit, non-partisan, independent research and education organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care that is available for and provided to all populations.
Its 37-page report concluded that “Because adverse health consequences have been detected and can be associated with the CBP among beneficiaries with diabetes, nationwide implementation of the CBP should be suspended immediately.”
The study found “a significant disruption in acquisition of diabetes-testing supplies among beneficiaries who require these products for the safe and effective management of their disease. This disruption prompted a large percentage of beneficiaries to reduce or cease acquisition of diabetes-testing supplies. This behavior was linked to increased mortality, hospitalizations, and associated costs.”
“We believe that the findings released today support our earlier claims and demonstrate, at a minimum, that Medicare’s CBP for diabetes testing equipment needs to be reevaluated further,” said Kurt Anderson, AADE’s Director of Federal and State Advocacy.