Alexandria, Va. - May 24, 2011
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) endorsed legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) that would allow seniors to continue receiving essential diabetes testing supplies, and expert counseling on their proper use, from independent community pharmacies.
"We commend Reps. Schock and Welch for introducing this vital legislation," said NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "This bipartisan bill would help ensure that seniors can continue to rely on their independent community pharmacy for these essential diabetes supplies and the expert counseling needed to effectively manage their condition."
The Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act (H.R. 1936) permanently exempts diabetes testing supplies furnished by small community pharmacies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) competitive bidding program and pricing for Medicare Part B DMEPOS (durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies). The bill also permits small, community pharmacies to continue providing home delivery of these products without them being subject to the future national mail order competitive bidding program.
CMS has indicated that it will likely include retail diabetic supplies in future rounds of DMEPOS competitive bidding. The exemption in H.R. 1936 covers diabetes test strips, monitors, lancets, glucose control solutions and applies to community pharmacies with 10 or fewer locations.
Without enactment of this legislation, or a comparable exemption, seniors would suffer diminished access as small pharmacies could no longer offer these supplies and provide face-to-face guidance. Most independent pharmacies will not be able to meet the competitive bidding requirement to service an entire Metropolitan Statistical Area and to match the cut-rate bid prices of giant mail order facilities.
"The in-person counseling provided by pharmacists is critical to helping many patients properly use glucose monitors," Hoey added. "Without face-to-face counseling, seniors may incorrectly interpret glucose readings, triggering either a false alarm or a mistaken sense of security. Under either scenario Medicare costs may increase as patients could unnecessarily seek more expensive treatment from physicians or hospitals or ultimately suffer costly diabetes complications.
"Community pharmacists urge Congress to support this legislation in the interests of the seniors and small businesses that they represent. NCPA members will deliver that message in person at our annual Legislative Conference in Washington this week."
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% 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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