The Federal Government will expand free access to glucose monitoring devices for pregnant women, children and more adults with type 1 diabetes, saving Gippsland patients up to $7,000 a year.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has welcomed the $100 million announcement that will ensure free glucose monitoring devices are available to over 37,000 eligible people with type 1 diabetes.
“Our government’s strong economic management means we can make sure more patients have access to more life-saving and life-improving medicines and treatments,” Mr Chester said.
“We’ve already made these devices available to children. Now, we are expanding the program to help more Gippslanders with type 1 diabetes.”
From March 1, 2019, Australians eligible for fully subsidised continuous glucose monitoring devices under the National Diabetes Services Scheme will include:
• women with type 1 diabetes who are pregnant, breastfeeding or actively planning pregnancy;
• people with type 1 diabetes aged 21 years or older who have concessional status, and who have a high clinical need such as experiencing recurrent severe hypoglycaemic events; and
• children and young people with conditions similar to type 1 diabetes who require insulin (this includes a range of conditions such as cystic fibrosis-related diabetes or neonatal diabetes).
Mr Chester said the Federal Government would work with Diabetes Australia and key diabetes experts to implement the expanded scheme and finalise the clinical criteria.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that attacks a person’s ability to produce insulin. People with this condition must be able to monitor their glucose levels day and night.
Mr Chester said continuous glucose monitoring devices checked a person’s glucose level around the clock.
“The devices have a sensor, usually attached to the stomach, that monitors the glucose levels and has an alarm that can alert people or their carer if the levels drop too low,” Mr Chester said.
The government also plans to add the new FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system to the scheme for people with type 1 diabetes.
“This will provide patients with more choice in how they manage their diabetes through this important program,” Mr Chester said.
The FreeStyle Libre device involves a sensor on the arm that monitors glucose levels and sends readings to a user’s mobile phone or diabetes management device. When a patient passes their phone or device past the sensor it provides a reading of their glucose levels.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt said expanding access to these glucose monitoring devices helped reduce stress and anxiety, as well as emergency visits to hospital.
“These devices will bring peace of mind to Australians with type 1 diabetes and improve their quality of life now and into the future,” Mr Hunt said.
In line with a commitment made during the 2016 federal election, the Coalition Government has already provided access to glucose monitoring products to eligible children and young people aged under 21 years with type 1 diabetes – nearly 9,500 young Australians – through the National Diabetes Services Scheme.