A welcome change

A welcome change

Earlier this week Diabetic Investor received an email from American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) which stated the following:

“The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and the American College of Endocrinology (ACE) are pleased to invite you to attend the AACE/ACE Consensus Conference on Glucose Monitoring on September 28-29, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

The consensus conference is uniquely structured to bring together all relevant stakeholders including healthcare professional societies, patient organizations, and representatives from government, insurance and the medical industry to outline possible solutions to assure patients’ access to high quality glucose monitoring systems and to identify regulatory pathways for effective post-marketing surveillance of these devices.

As a result of the conference, a consensus statement will be drafted, reviewed, and approved by a committee of AACE experts and a summary will be presented at a congressional briefing by AACE on Tuesday, September 30.  A supplement detailing the proceedings of the conference will be published in AACE’s peer-reviewed journal, Endocrine Practice. “

Being the cynic we are, Diabetic Investor asked AACE just what they hoped to accomplish with this meeting. Did they hope to get Congress to repeal competitive bidding or make changes to the competitive bidding process? Would they like the FDA to change the standards for meter accuracy?

We received a very nice email from George Grunberger, MD, FACP, FACE, Chairman, Grunberger Diabetes Institute, Clinical Professor, Internal Medicine and Molecular Medicine & Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Professor, Medicine Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine President Elect, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists which contained the following passage;

“We owe it to our patients and their treating physicians to restore sanity. The only way to do it is to have all of the stakeholders sit together and try to come up with answers to the same questions regardless which corner you sit it and then hopefully get to our legislators with reasonable solutions which actually benefit those who need the help and not the bureaucrats.”

Bravo Dr. Grunberger- Bravo  AACE for actually doing something proactive for not sitting around and just complaining.  Diabetic Investor remains skeptical that anything will change as we put in an email to AACE- “The horse has left the barn already and ain’t coming back” but we are 100% behind this effort. It’s time that our elected officials understand how the decisions they make impact the lives of millions of registered voters.

This move by AACE is refreshing in another way as Diabetic Investor believes one reason this whole mess came about was the lack of action by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the JDRF, two groups that are supposed to represent the interest of patients and quite frankly haven’t done much of anything in that regard. Diabetic Investor suspects this is the reason we have seen a change of leadership at both organizations.  Although it’s early Diabetic Investor was pleased to see a piece penned by Derek Rapp CEO of the JDRF for Roll Call which posted online yesterday and contained the following passage;

“The economic data alone are compelling — Medicare beneficiaries with T1D have disproportionately high hospitalizations and emergency room use, often due to low blood sugar, which can result in seizures, comas or death. The cost of an average hospitalization for such an event is $17,500 per patient. A recent study found 16 percent of elderly patients with T1D had at least one seizure or episode of unconsciousness due to low blood sugar in the past year.”

What makes that statement so compelling is not just the fact that its true but the entire piece never, not once mentioned the artificial pancreas. That the JDRF was actually trying to help patients today, help them get better coverage from Medicare. This is a welcome departure from the past and we sure hope to see more.

The entire post can be found at http://www.rollcall.com/news/congress_seniors_with_diabetes_deserve_medicare_coverage_for_life_saving-235989-1.html?pg=1&dczone=opinion)

Not to rain on this parade but Diabetic Investor doubts any changes will be made to the competitive bidding area as in the wacky world of government accounting they have already booked the expected savings from the program. We also question whether any changes will be made to Medicare covering CGM systems which is the main thrust of Mr. Rapp’s post. The simple fact is our elected officials dump on diabetes because there is no penalty to pay.

Rule one in politics is get elected, rule two continue to get reelected. If patients with diabetes are ever to get what they want from Congress they must make politicians pay the ultimate price – don’t vote for them and vote for someone who will listen. What we need more than anything is for patients with diabetes to make diabetes an issue, to vote taking this issue into account. While Diabetic Investor isn’t a huge fan of the NRA, this organization has influence in Washington because their members vote based on a politicians stance on gun issues.

It amazes Diabetic Investor that other disease states continue to receive greater funding than diabetes even though there economic and healthcare impact are lower than diabetes.  Listen we all know that every disease deserves and wants more money, no argument here. However, given the economic and healthcare impact of diabetes we should not be behind other less impactful disease states. The only way this is going to happen is when patients with diabetes vote based on diabetes related issues.

If AACE, the JDRF and the ADA really want to accomplish something this should be on the agenda. They can publish statements all they want but if our elected officials know that their stance on diabetes related issues does not impact their ability to get reelected or raise more money than patients with diabetes will continue to get shafted and quite frankly we’ve been shafted enough.