The Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP) has a new Blood Glucose (blood sugar) Test Strip Policy that took effect on July 1, 2016. This new policy will limit the number of diabetes test strips paid for by the government for those who qualify under the NLPDP. The new policy can be found here: http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/prescription/pdf/glucose/policy.pdf
The following information describes the recent changes and how they are viewed by the clinical and scientific experts at the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). It also provides links for people who want to know more or who want to raise concerns about the changes to the policy.
CDA response to the changes
The CDA understands that a possible change in how a person manages diabetes can be challenging. As such, people living with diabetes who use the NLPDP may have questions or concerns about the recent changes to how much government will pay toward test strips.
The CDA understands that budgets are limited and some changes to the amount the government pays for diabetes test strips may be reasonable. Because of this, in 2011 the CDA made recommendations on the minimum number of tests strips the government should provide for people with diabetes. With its new policy, the NLPDP has chosen not to follow the expert recommendations from the CDA.
The current NLPDP policy may not meet the needs of those people with diabetes who need to test more because of their own unique clinical needs. People need to be able to test their blood sugar based on their doctor’s orders. This policy may be too focused on saving money and should be more focused on the needs of people living with diabetes. As a result, the CDA does not support the current policy.
CDA recommendations for changes to the policy
We have asked for a change to the policy to meet the needs of people living with diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The need for testing blood sugar depends on a person’s unique medical needs, which includes the specific medication (pills or insulin) that a person takes to manage their diabetes. The CDA recommends:
- for people living with type 2 diabetes and taking pills (and who are at higher risk of a low blood sugar event), at least 30 strips per month (approx. 360 strips/year);
- for people living with type 2 diabetes and who may or may not be taking any pills (and who are at lower risk of low blood sugar event), 15 strips per month (approx. 180 strips/year); and
- no limits for people with diabetes who use any kind of insulin.
The CDA’s main priority is that people with diabetes have access to the testing supplies they need to manage their disease, based on the advice of their health-care provider. There should not be a barrier for a person to be able to take care of themselves. Self-management of diabetes is an important part of diabetes care and testing blood sugar is an essential part of self-management.
In the last two years, several other provinces have either considered or made changes to reduce the number of diabetes test strips provided through public drug plans, but many have met or exceeded the CDA recommendations, such as British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
What people living with diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador should know if they are affected by this new policy:
People living with diabetes are encouraged to talk with their health-care provider. Your doctor and/or your diabetes clinic team will give you a prescription and suggest when you should test your blood sugar based on your own needs. In many cases, if you get test strips through the NLPDP, the amount allowed with the new policy will be enough to meet your doctor’s advice. If you find you need more strips for testing than are covered, you should discuss this with your doctor.
NLPDP does have a process so you can ask for more test strips. There is a form that can be used to explain why you might need more test strips. It is important that people with diabetes know they can request approval for more strips if they need them through this process. Forms will need to be filled out by your doctor, pharmacist, or other health-care provider, and they can be found at the NLPDP website: http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/prescription/glucose.html
Please speak to your doctor, pharmacist, or other health-care provider, such as a Diabetes Educator, who can assist you by completing the form and sending to NLPDP.
If you have questions about the policy:
The NLPDP has advised that if anyone has any questions about the diabetes test strip policy, or their coverage, they can call (709) 729-6507 or toll free at 1- 888-222-0533. The NLPDP has also developed question and answer documents, which can be viewed here:
For health-care professionals: http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/prescription/pdf/glucose/faq_health_prof.pdf
If you want to raise concerns about the policy
If you have concerns with this policy, are having trouble getting the number of test strips you need, or want to know where to turn to, please contact the CDA main provincial office at (709) 754-0953, or drop by in-person and visit us at 29-31 Pippy Place, St. John's, NL.
People who are having issues getting the number of test strips they need through the NLPDP should contact their local provincial elected member (MHA) to make sure they are aware of this issue, informing them that the CDA has asked for a review and change of the new policy to make it easier for people to get the test strips they need to stay healthy. You can contact your MHA here: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/members/contact-your-member.htm
Category Tags: Announcements;
Region: Atlantic (PE, NB, NS, NL)