Freestyle Libre Systems More Accessible Through Medicare Coverage Expansion
On Monday, April 17, 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced expanded coverage of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) for more Medicare enrollees with diabetes, effective immediately. Over 65 million Americans use Medicare as their primary health insurance—11 million live with diabetes, many of whom take insulin and will now be able to access CGMs for the first time.
Expanded coverage will allow people with diabetes who use as little as one basal insulin injection per day to access a CGM. For many years, people with diabetes on Medicare could only access a CGM if they injected insulin three or more times per day. In some cases, people with diabetes who do not use insulin but have a history of severe low blood sugar levels will also be eligible for a CGM.
This landmark decision is the most significant expansion of CGM coverage for people with diabetes in United States history.
Expanded access to Freestyle Libre
This expanded access includes devices such as the Freestyle Libre 2 and Freestyle Libre 14-day system, among others.
Abbott is working diligently to get Medicare coverage for the Freestyle Libre 3 system, whose reader gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 14, 2023. Medicare requires a standalone reader for any CGM system approvals.
The Abbott Freestyle Libre system is the most prescribed and affordable CGM system in the United States. This expansion is a massive win for the diabetes community, and Abbott agrees.
Jared Watkin, a senior vice president for Abbott’s diabetes care business, said, “Freestyle Libre technology was designed from the start to be affordable and accessible.” He continued that this expanded access will allow people to “spend less time worrying and more time living healthier, better lives.”
Continuous glucose monitors save lives
Access to CGM technology in the United States is still fraught. Many people either cannot afford them, their health plan doesn’t cover them, or they have to jump through impossible hoops to access them, even if they have good health insurance.
CGMs are some of the best patient-centered technology available to improve patient outcomes and make life with diabetes easier. This change will be substantial for the millions of Americans with diabetes on Medicare.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) also celebrates this change.
Chuck Henderson, the chief executive officer of the ADA, said, “We applaud Medicare’s decision allowing for all insulin-dependent people as well as others who have a history of problematic hypoglycemia to have access to a continuous glucose monitor, a potentially life-saving tool for diabetes management.”