Federal Government pledges $100m to support patients with type 1 diabetes

Evelyn Lewin

26/11/2018 1:55:54 PM

Patients with type 1 diabetes will receive more options for continuous glucose monitoring and free access to such devices following the Government’s funding pledge.

More than 37,000 people with type 1 diabetes will receive free glucose monitoring. (Image: Katie Collins)
More than 37,000 people with type 1 diabetes will receive free glucose monitoring. (Image: Katie Collins)

The Federal Government has announced it will invest an additional $100 million over four years to support patients with type 1 diabetes.
The move is designed ensure free continuous glucose monitoring devices are available to more than 37,000 Australians with type 1 diabetes.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said this new initiative will save families up to $7000 per year.
From 1 March 2019, eligibility for fully subsidised continuous glucose monitoring devices will be expanded under the National Diabetes Services Scheme to include:

  • women with type 1 diabetes who are pregnant, breastfeeding or actively planning a 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)
  • 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).  
The Government has pledged to work with Diabetes Australia and key diabetes experts to implement the expanded scheme and finalise the clinical criteria. 
The funding will provide continuous glucose monitoring in two forms, providing patients with more choice regarding how they manage their diabetes.
One type of continuous monitoring involves a sensor, usually attached to the stomach, that monitors glucose levels and provides alerts if levels drop too low.
The Government also plans to add the new FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System to the scheme.
This system 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. It also helps patients see trends in their glucose levels and allows the information to be shared with others.
The funding has been welcomed by Dr Alison Nankervis, Clinical Head of Diabetes at the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Royal Melbourne Hospital, who said continuous monitoring is ‘much easier’ and ‘so much more accurate’ than current methods (finger-prick tests) for people with type 1 diabetes.
‘It leads to better control. We’ve got very, very good evidence about that,’ Dr Nankervis said.
‘So all of the outcomes are incredibly positive. And the most positive thing is just the sense of confidence that women and young people have in their blood glucose levels. If they’re going to normalise their blood glucose levels, it’s going to be with this sort of technology.’
Expanding access to these glucose-monitoring devices may offer many other benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, as well as fewer emergency hospital visits.
Diabetes Australia’s Greg Johnson said the additional funding may be ‘life-changing’ and ‘life-saving’ for the children born from type 1 diabetes pregnancies.  
‘This technology not only has an immediate impact during the pregnancy, but it has a lifetime potential benefit to those kids who are born with it,’ he said.
Research backs that notion, with a 2016 paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia concluding that women with type 1 diabetes, even when managed in a specialist setting, still experience adverse obstetric and neonatal outcomes.
The research found the median gestation period for babies born to mothers with type 1 diabetes was shorter, with neonates more likely to be large for gestational age, more likely to have shoulder dystocia, hypoglycaemia, respiratory distress, pre-term birth or even suffer perinatal death.
Minister Hunt said there are currently 120,000 Australians with type 1 diabetes and that it is a condition that is growing at a rate of around 3500 per year.

breastfeeding continuous glucose monitoring diabetes funding glucose monitoring pregnancy type 1 diabetes

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Rachel Davidson   28/11/2018 8:35:47 AM

Finally! Freestyle libre on the ndss! Took them long bloody enough!

Alex Wilson   28/11/2018 4:52:15 PM

What does it mean when the article uses the term concessional status?

newsGP   29/11/2018 12:08:38 PM

Thanks for your question, Alex. The term 'concessional status' refers to anyone who holds a concession card, such as a Pensioner Concession Card of Health Care Card.
Thank you.

Mal   15/01/2019 6:37:10 PM

When and by whom will the final decision be made re high clinical needs

Phil Melville   20/03/2019 12:24:54 AM

To clarify; will some people be able to receive flash GM free of charge and others at subsidised pricing through the NDSS (with the pricing still being negotiated), is that where things stand currently?

JOHN CRABTREE   27/03/2019 9:47:32 AM

My wife is 70 with Type 1 and does not have a concession card, so she is discriminated againest because of her age and cannot get the subsidy unless she is ill and has to go Hospital with low blood sugar problems. Why do all young people qualify and not all elderly people. Age discrimination again.

John Porra   3/05/2019 3:55:54 PM

I agree with John Crabtree. I'm 48, have a LONG history of high blood sugar and don't have a concession card. I've used this in the past, but it's too expensive to use regularly. When I was using, I could get my average readings in the 6 to 8's now my spot testing is in the 18's to 26. Strangely cause I don't go to hospital because of lows, i'm not elligable.

How dumb is this?

Robert Mcgladdery   3/10/2019 5:56:09 PM

I read that the government health minister was to put freestyle sensors on the pbs. as yet this has not been done apart from the other type which is not good for people like me who has medication for arthritis, it does not work. So when is Greg hunt going to do what he said he would? I am 70 years old with finger tips like pin cushions living with Type 1 diabetes for 40 years.

Duhan   15/10/2019 11:23:49 AM

I believe govt should support those people too who have type 1 diabetes and pay 40% tax, I am over 21, professional and wanted to work more and paying enough tax to support other people, Still can't afford extra 10 grand for continious monitoring system as have family to raise and mortgage to pay. I am sure there are many people like me who work hard and should get benifit of having medical equipments support.

Jacqui   29/04/2020 9:19:21 AM

I am perplexed My Daughter is 24 has very difficult to control diabetes and earns above the threshold for a health care card, if she was under 21 or unemployed and living off government support she would have better diabetes care and control at the expense of the government however because she is working hard and paying tax etc she is not entitled to that privledge. Type 1 Diabetes does not suddenly get easier to control over 21

Jackie   29/04/2022 11:01:12 PM

So a person earning minimal wages that doesn’t qualify for concessions doesn’t qualify for CGM! not sure where the hard working type 1 diabetic are going to come up with $7000 for this include the $40+ per prescription for insulin.
Our government should be ashamed how it doesn’t support low to middle income earners especially as these devices are not covered even by private health funds either