NCPA Urges Caution as Medicare Proceeds with Diabetes Competitive Bidding Program

Alexandria, VA - July 02, 2010

 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) late yesterday issued their list of winning bid prices for the first round re-bid of the Medicare Part B Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) competitive bidding program. In response, Joseph H. Harmison, PD, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) President and pharmacy owner in Arlington, TX, issued the following statement:

“Community pharmacists are working on a daily basis with diabetes patients and physicians to improve health outcomes and lower health care costs. That relationship should continue as a result of Medicare’s recent proposal to exempt community pharmacies from the bidding program for diabetes testing supplies. Such an integrated approach to diabetes care fits naturally with the increasingly popular medical home concept and several provisions enacted in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“As CMS officials proceed with the DMEPOS bidding program, we urge caution against any action that would undermine or reverse the benefits of coordinated care. For example, the inclusion of small pharmacies in the bidding program or reimbursing them at the newly announced mail order rates eventually would result in the virtual elimination of independents from the program. Independents don’t operate with the purchasing power of large-chains or mail order competitors and thus can’t always match those prices.

“Seniors, especially those in underserved rural and urban areas, rely on independents to be their one-stop shop for many of their health care needs and a face-to-face consultation with clinically-trained pharmacists.

“When seniors cannot consult their local pharmacists about their medications and testing supplies, inevitably problems will arise. It’s common for mail order customers to end up in independent pharmacies seeking instruction on how to use the testing supplies – care for which the local pharmacist is not compensated. Plus, many supplies are changing, so the way seniors use them needs to change. Local pharmacists help ensure patients get accurate blood glucose readings – not a false sense of security or an unnecessary state of panic.”

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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