On January 16th at 6:01am I sent the following private message on my Congressman’s Facebook page:
Rep. Collins, I am a type 1 diabetic approaching Medicare age and I use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to track my blood sugars and keep myself safe from falling blood sugars. My health insurance pays for this device, but under Medicare law it is not covered. I ask you to support H.R.3710, the Medicare CGM Coverage Act of 2014. This bill would allow Medicare to cover Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems (CGMs) if recommended by a doctor. Thank you for your anticipated support of this bill.
I never got a response. Maybe that wasn’t the correct way to go about contacting him; I’m not sure. Perhaps I should have sent a letter in the mail or contacted him through his website.
In the meantime on February 17, Sue from Pennsylvania published her Join the Crusade post which encouraged people with diabetes or affected by diabetes to become involved in the fight for Medicare coverage of CGMS. Her post gave instructions on how to email the Legislative Assistant for Health Issues of one’s Congressperson and ask for his/her help in conveying to the Representative the importance of supporting H.R. 3710: Medicare CGM Coverage Act. A sample letter was provided.
Sue, with help from Laddie and me, followed her blogpost with an intensive push to contact other bloggers and ask them to share her story and the importance of H.R. 3710. She received responses from several bloggers who either wrote blogposts about the issue or invited Sue to guest post on their site. A big thank you to Kerri, Kim, Stephen, Diabetic Mainer, and all others who did this! And many thanks to everyone who spread the message through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
Last week I sent my email to Rep. Collins’ Legislative Assistant for Health Issues using the form letter included in Sue’s blog and added the following paragraph to emphasize why this is so important to me:
I have been a type 1 diabetic since 1988, dependent on taking insulin in multiple doses every single day to stay alive. Although insulin is a natural hormone, type 1 diabetics no longer make insulin due to an immune system that goes haywire and attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Many things can go wrong when taking insulin, resulting in low blood sugars (hypoglycemia) and high blood sugars (hyperglycemia). These can happen very rapidly and without warning, resulting in confusion, coma and even death. The continuous glucose monitor (CGM) is a device the diabetic can wear to alert him or her to an impending low blood sugar in time to act before unconsciousness results. I have been wearing a CGM for 4 years, and have not had a low blood sugar that resulted in unconsciousness in that time. Before I got the CGM, I would have at least one episode every month, many resulting in 911 calls and/or emergency room trips. I will be 65 next year and on Medicare, and unless this law is changed I fear I will once again be experiencing low blood sugars and trips to the E.R. or worse.
I am hopeful that I will get a response from either Rep. Collins or his assistant. And if I don’t get a response, I hope that he is so busy working on co-sponsoring the bill that he doesn’t have time to reply to me. I will happily accept that outcome.