October 17, 2011

A Campaign for All of Us

A problem faces all of us, whether we are type 1, type 2, or any other type. How much longer are we going to put up with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) setting the limits for how many test strips we can be reimbursed for and that we can use? Yes, we will be taking on a strong arm of the government, but the need is there to do this. We cannot continue to allow them to take away our testing supplies.

Why the CMS? Because they set the limit and private insurance follows their lead. It is time what we notify our senators and congressional representatives to explain to them what is happening. How many test strips do we need? Definitely more than we are currently being allowed.

People with type 1 definitely need more that 4 or 5 test strips per day. Some days when they are going from a high to a low, they go through many test strips. And, if this happens often, where do they get the additional test strips. Many have to buy the extra test strips on their own. People with type 2 on insulin face the same problem.

Those that are also type 2, but on oral medications are allowed a maximum of two test strips per day. People with prediabetes are not allowed any test strips. To become more empowered patients and manage diabetes effectively, we need the limit removed or at least increased to a reasonable number of test strips. This is true after diagnosis, as learning is taking place about what foods can do to our blood glucose levels.

Yes, we also need to rattle some doctors, as they often do not want patients testing at all because they do not wants patients to become depressed when they see the results. Others will not fight for their patients to get them more test strips. This amazes me as doctors are supposed to do no harm. Their attitude is definitely doing harm to their patients.

What these doctors do not realize is that the patients need support and training to manage their diabetes. They do not need to be told not to test when they need to know what their blood glucose levels are to learn how to manage diabetes. Why increase the anxiety level in these patients that the doctors do not want them to succeed in managing their diabetes.

To the patients that have doctors like these, seriously consider finding a doctor that will work with you to help you manage diabetes. Since the doctors cannot hold your hand 24/7, you need one that will give you the tools to use on your own.

It is unfortunate that people do not understand why they need to test. Shortly after diagnosis, people need to understand what the food they are eating is doing to their blood glucose levels. Some are immediately concerned and do not want to eat, but by being able to test their blood glucose levels about one hour after eating. Many are surprised at the increase in blood glucose levels from before eating to approximately one hour after, or up to two hours after eating.

They can see an increase of 60 up to 100 mg/dl (3.3 to 5.6 mmol/L of blood glucose increase. They need to be concerned about the quantity of food consumed as well as the nutritional quality. If your blood glucose happens to be 109 (6.0 mmol/L) before eating, you do not want to see a blood glucose level above 149 (8.3 mmol/L) one hour after eating or a maximum increase of 40 mg/dl (.2.2 mmol/L).

Most people that have managed their blood glucose levels for some time do not want the see an increase above 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/L). For the newly diagnosed, they still must work through this trial period and learn what the different foods do to their blood glucose levels.

Even those of us that have managed our blood glucose levels effectively, still need more test strips to assist us in getting through times when we have problems because of illness, stress, or unforeseen circumstances. So it is necessary for all of us to protest the restrictions for test strips CMS is placing upon us.

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