Oregon’s Diabetes Death Squad: HERC

773209_26624240Your health care professional walks into the room, plunks a file on the table, and grimaces at you.

“Your A1C is 7.5. Your fasting blood glucose level is 143.

You have Type 2 diabetes.

Here’s a prescription for a blood glucose meter and test strips. You don’t need insulin or medications right now. Let’s see how that goes. Check your blood glucose level with the meter and I’ll see you for a follow-up. 

Oh, wait. You have Oregon Health Plan. Hmm… Yeah, go ahead and use the meter and the 50 strips that you are permitted to have, but after you’ve used up those 50 strips, you’re on your own. You want to continue to check your blood glucose level? Buy your own strips.” 

This is not fiction. This is what Oregon thinks is completely appropriate for those who must use the state health care plan, which is funded by Medicaid. The rationale behind the Oregon’s Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) recommendation, handed down yesterday in a public meeting:

  • People with T2 diabetes who aren’t on insulin or oral meds don’t need to check
  • It’ll save a bunch of money because these people don’t test anyway
  • Randomized clinical trials prove that daily blood glucose testing doesn’t make a difference in A1C levels
  • Hey, Kaiser Permanente is doing it and no one has died. 

The Facts About This Recommendation

Here’s the report from the Bend Bulletin. Please raise your tray table and extinguish all smoking materials before you read it.

If you’re curious as to what the public had to say (and what HERC pretty much ignored and said wasn’t important), you can sift through pages and pages here.  (p. 46 - 75). The responses from HERC would be comical, if they weren’t real.

The response to a Registered Nurse and Diabetes Educator from Eugene, OR who shared her thoughts about the impact that self blood glucose monitoring has on her patients:

Thank you for your comment. HTAS appreciates the perspective you bring to diabetes education, but finds the lack of effect of SBMG on patient outcomes more compelling. 

Their responses to the American Diabetes Association, Endocrinologists, Nurse Practitioners, and patients were all dismissive and condescending. The HERC relied on very little data from randomized clinical trials that did not take into account the educational component needed to incorporate SBMG (self blood glucose monitoring) into a T2’s daily life. (Want to know which trials? Delve deep into the link above (before p. 46’s public comments) and ta-da.)

Meet Oregon’s Diabetes Death Squad

 This group of people is the Oregon Diabetes Death Squad, who made a recommendation that people with Type 2 diabetes on Oregon’s Health Plan (OHP) don’t need to know what their blood sugars are on a daily basis. Because, you know, their own doctors can’t be trusted to know better.

Would you like to know what qualifications HERC has to make this important, life-changing decision (and in my mind, one that will cost them significantly more in the long run in emergency room and complication treatments)? They must all work with people with diabetes on a daily basis, right?


Here’s the bios from the Health Evidence Review Commission Members page:

  • Gerald Ahmann, MD, -  recently retired hematologist/oncologist.
  • Wiley Chan, MD, - internal medicine physician and Director of Guidelines and Evidence-based Medicine for Kaiser Permanente Northwest.
  • Alissa Craft, DO, MBA, - pediatrician specializing in neonatal and perinatal medicine and Medical Director for Samaritan Health Plans.
  • Irene Croswell, RPh, - retail pharmacist.
  • Lisa Dodson, MD, - family physician.
  • Leda Garside, RN, BSN, MBA, - Clinical Nurse Manager.
  • Mark Gibson - Former fire fighter and current Director of the OHSU Center for Evidence-based Policy.
  • Vern Saboe, DC, - chiropractic physician.
  • Som Saha, MD, MPH, - general internist at the Portland VA Medical Center.
  • James Tyack, DMD, MAGD, - dentist.
  • Beth Kaplan Westbrook, PsyD, - clinical psychologist.
  • Susan Williams, MD, - orthopedic surgeon.

For those of you keeping score, we have a psychologist, a former firefighter, a dentist, two chiropractors, and a pharmacist on HERC. How likely are those individuals to deal with people with diabetes on a daily basis? Unless they have a personal connection, they do not treat Type 2s as a member of a health care team.

Of the remaining members of the HERC, I wouldn’t bet the farm on extensive daily interaction with people with diabetes unless there is a personal connection. (Please note: I don’t have a farm, but if I did, I would raise naughas. For their hide, of course.)

 Stopping The Future Carnage

I truly hope that this recommendation is not implemented. Is there anything we, as a community - or as humans - can do?


  • You can continue to sign the petition that was created to tell Oregon that it’s not right to restrict or deny people blood glucose test strips.
  • You can look at your own state to see what the current number of test strips offered under the Medicaid program. Is there something brewing to restrict the number? Let me know in the comments.
  • You can tweet the governor of Oregon to let him know that HERC should not decide to deny blood glucose testing to Type 2s after initial diagnosis.

Why is this important? Why should you care?


Your state might be next.

Your insurance company might be next.

Your Type 1 diabetes might be next.

Your health might be next, even if you don’t have diabetes.

We are all on the firing line.





  1. Fenbeast (@Fenbeast)

    Mother of a child with T1D here, and I am HORRIFIED. They made this decision using a collection of people that includes not a single endocrinologist, not a single cardiologist, not even a CDE??? That’s like assigning Mattel and Hasbro to the team that designs missile launchers.

  2. mjohnson9706

    As a T2 who currently is off all meds and relies on her strips to stay that way, I signed the petition and appreciate you bringing it to our attention.

  3. mjohnson9706

    Reblogged this on mydiabetesandme and commented:
    This is the scariest thing I’ve read all day. Testing strips are the most important thing in my war on my Diabetes. If some folks don’t want to test, they don’t have to fill the scripts, as for the people who do rely on their strips to control their blood sugar, 50 a month is not nearly enough. To treat without testing is akin to just blind picking any medication to treat any condition. Test strips are that important.

  4. Phil Ruggiero

    Reblogged this on War On Diabetes and commented:
    This is crazy. Type 2’s must test a minimum of 2x per day; more if indicated or recommended by your doctor who knows you best. Testing is cheap compared to the cost of complications which could happen if testing is not done. How can you fight the War if you don’t know where you are - which is what glucose testing tells you.

    Where’s the endocrinologist on the board?

    Please read. Please.

  5. kcg1974

    I can hardly comment, having lived with this bureaucracy for nearly 22 years. It frustrates me more that I can say. It’s not only Type 2 diabetes, but Type 1 diabetes as well as so many other conditions. Our insurance system is a mess. When my innocent child was sick and weak, draped in my arms, I would look at the holy ‘Powers-that-Be, who made decisions based on $$$ for his future life. I thank God for my ‘voice’ back then, but it is still a struggle, worsening with each passing day. THANK YOU for bringing more awareness to this world.

  6. beetleypete

    In the UK, a similar system applies, with a free prescription of 50 strips allocated, for a once a week test. However, this is circumvented by the local health care nursing team, who assess each case individually, and give out more strips, as many as are possibly needed. There can never be a ‘one size fits all’ solution to this disease.
    Regards from England, Pete.

  7. runningwithoutsugar

    You have people who have nothing to do with diabetes deciding on what treatment people with diabetes needs? That’s insane. Well, I can’t complain much because my endo tells me that Japan’s national health system will not cover test strips unless you use insulin. Makes no sense at all. My consolation (which isn’t much) is that my brand test strips are cheaper here than they are in the US (at least when I checked in July).

  8. Pingback: Scary New Obstacles to Getting the Diabetes Stuff You Need : DiabetesMine: the all things diabetes blog

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