Use of glucose monitoring is essential to the safety of individuals with insulin-treated diabetes. In 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program (CBP) in nine test markets. This resulted in a substantial disruption of beneficiary access to self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) supplies and significant increases in the percentage of beneficiaries with either reduced or no acquisition of supplies. These reductions were significantly associated with increased mortality, hospitalizations, and costs. The CBP was implemented nationally in July 2013. We evaluated the impact of this rollout to determine if the adverse outcomes seen in 2011 persisted.
This longitudinal study followed 529,627 insulin-treated beneficiaries from 2009 through 2013 to assess changes in beneficiary acquisition of testing supplies in the initial nine test markets (TEST, n = 43,939) and beneficiaries not affected by the 2011 rollout (NONTEST, n = 485,688). All Medicare beneficiary records for analysis were obtained from CMS.
The percentages of beneficiaries with partial/no SMBG acquisition were significantly higher in both the TEST (37.4%) and NONTEST (37.6%) groups after the first 6 months of the national CBP rollout, showing increases of 48.1% and 60.0%, respectively (both P < 0.0001). The percentage of beneficiaries with no record for SMBG acquisition increased from 54.1% in January 2013 to 62.5% by December 2013.
Disruption of beneficiary access to their prescribed SMBG supplies has persisted and worsened. Diabetes testing supplies should be excluded from the CBP until transparent, science-based methodologies for safety monitoring are adopted and implemented.