diaTribe’s Testimonial Against Severe Limits on Test Strips in Oregon
By Nancy Liu
Twitter summary: Help Stop Oregon from Severely Restricting Test Strips for People with #Diabetes – 3,000+ signed and diaTribe speaks out for patients.
On December 5, diaTribe Managing Editor Nancy Liu traveled to Oregon to speak out on behalf of people with diabetes as part of the effort to stop a proposal aimed at severely restricting test strips. What follows is the full text of her speech. We also created a petition against the proposal that received 3,000+ signatures and 1,000+ comments over the course of a couple days - thank you for your help and advocacy! Please read more about the issue in Oregon here.
Good afternoon. My name is Nancy Liu, and I’m here to represent The diaTribe Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people with diabetes and prediabetes and advocating for action. I am also the managing editor for diaTribe, which reaches thousands of readers across the United States and the world. We’ve written about Oregon’s proposal to limit test strips for people with diabetes and created a petition against the proposal that now has more than 3,000 signatures and more than 1,000 testimonials of caregivers and people with diabetes.
Diabetes is not a one size fits all disease, and this recommendation would unfairly limit glucose monitoring, which is critical in managing diabetes. We believe that studies that claim test strips do not benefit type 2 patients are fundamentally flawed. Test strips are not a therapy in and of themselves, but a tool used in conjunction with education to improve outcomes. An A1c result alone is an inadequate measure of management because it is only an average and does not reflect the daily volatility of blood sugars or the bleary feeling that accompanies those struggles. Patients need constant feedback, or information, to manage this disease. Only then can they adjust their medication, diet, or lifestyle. Without test strips, or by using only one a week, that is almost impossible.
Proposals to limit the use of test strips are misdirected, and shortsighted – small savings now will only lead to increased complications, hospital visits, and operations, all of which will cost more money in the future. In 2010, the estimated direct medical and indirect societal cost for diabetes in Oregon was a whopping $2.82 billion. In 2012, the estimated costs in the US grew to $245 billion. Limiting management options will move us in the wrong direction in cost and quality of care.
As patents and patient advocates, we acknowledge there is waste in the system. We are advocating arriving at a new policy that makes sense for patients, encourages active, smart, diabetes management, and eliminates waste. We MUST all work toward better policies for patients and HCPs that will be more effective in terms of cost and outcomes than continuing down the current path. Moving toward a policy of virtually eliminating strips for patients with a progressive disease won’t serve any of us well and is emblematic of payers that are moving too fast and are not concerned enough about the impact on increasing dangerous patient outcomes - hypoglycemia, cardiovascular disease, and everything in between. Patients and advocates would like to see a pause to the mad decision making in diabetes so that we can all work toward new policies that make sense for patients and for society in the short and long run. We aim for policies that encourage active, smart, diabetes management and far less waste and would like to work with policymakers on this front.
It is estimated that 12% of Oregon residents (that’s 550,000 people) will have diabetes in 2025. This doesn’t include the friends, family, and health care providers who will be affected by people with poor diabetes management and costly complications – which will occur if they are unable to monitor their blood sugars. Do you want to be part of a future where a third of your constituents suffer from the consequences of this proposal? We hope not.