News Releases

Friday, August 3, 2007

Isakson Introduces Legislation to Allow Medicare Coverage for Safe Needle Removal for Diabetics
Potential Savings from Reduced Injuries Could be Substantial

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) today introduced legislation to allow Medicare coverage of safe needle removal for insulin-dependent beneficiaries to reduce the number of accidental injuries, infections and subsequent costs associated with their treatment.

"Of the 20 million Americans affected by diabetes, nearly 8 million qualify for Medicare," Isakson said.  "Many of the complications from diabetes can be prevented through proper needle use and disposal, and it is our responsibility to provide the means necessary to keep these patients healthy."

Over 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries are dependent on insulin to manage their condition. Improper disposal or mishandling of insulin needle and syringes often results in further health complications.

Specifically, the Medicare Safe Needle Disposal Coverage Act of 2007 will allow coverage of safe needle removal, decontamination and destruction devices, as well as coverage of needle and syringe disposal through a sharps-by-mail program. On average, insulin-dependant Medicare beneficiaries inject themselves three times a day. The entire population injects themselves 1.4 billion times annually, making accidents inevitable.

Medicare currently spends over $130 billion annually for medical treatment and complications of diabetics. Potential savings to Medicare could be substantial if only a fraction of these complications could be prevented through safe and effective needle disposal.

U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) introduced an identical bill in the House of Representatives.