Medicare's imminent ban on home delivery by pharmacies prompts 43 U.S. Reps. to act
Alexandria, Va. May 22, 2013 - Forty-three Members of Congress led by U.S. Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) are questioning Medicare's decision to prohibit independent community pharmacies from providing same-day, home delivery of diabetes testing supplies to homebound seniors, under a new policy scheduled to take effect July 1, 2013.
"We write to request that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reconsider its decision to no longer allow small community pharmacies to deliver diabetes testing supplies (DTS) to homebound patients as well as patients in long term care and assisted living facilities," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to CMS, the agency that administers Medicare. "If implemented in July 2013, this policy will cause disruption in the care provided to Medicare patients."
"Now that retail and mail order suppliers receive the same level of reimbursements, we believe there is no further reason to prohibit home delivery by retail pharmacies," they concluded. "We ask that you expeditiously consider allowing small retail pharmacies to continue home delivery and not prevent these crucial face-to-face counseling and adherence services from being available to Medicare patients."
CMS is implementing drastic cuts to its reimbursement levels for pharmacies providing diabetes test supplies to Medicare beneficiaries through the Medicare Part B program. As of July 1, 2013, uniform payment rates will apply to both mail order and local pharmacy providers.
"Community pharmacists pride themselves on the superlative level of care that they offer Medicare beneficiaries and all of their patients," said B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, NCPA CEO. "That superior level of service is embodied by unique offerings such as same-day, home delivery, which the vast majority of independent community pharmacies offer. This absurd policy of banning pharmacy deliveries to vulnerable patients is indefensible and must be overturned. For pharmacists, it adds insult to injury, coming on top of the reimbursement cuts. For patients accustomed to the deliveries, it represents a needless hurdle in their efforts to combat diabetes.
"Some independent community pharmacies may be forced to stop offering DTS due to the inadequate reimbursement," Hoey added. "However, those community pharmacies that continue to offer these products should be allowed to deliver them, particularly since the cost to Medicare is the same whether the patient chooses a local pharmacy or mail order. We commend Reps. Schock and Welch for their leadership and thank all of these lawmakers for their support for patients and the independent community pharmacists who care for them."
The letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.); Lou Barletta (R-Pa.); Andy Barr (R-Ky.); Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.); Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.); Mo Brooks (R-Ala.); Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); Judy Chu (D-Calif.); Mike Coffman (R-Colo.); Tom Cole (R-Okla.); Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.); Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.); Danny Davis (D-Ill.); Rodney Davis (R-Ill.); Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.); Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.); Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.); Morgan Griffith (R-Va.); Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.); Denny Heck (D-Wisc.); Walter Jones (R-N.C.); Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.); Peter King (R-N.Y.); Jack Kingston (R-Ga.); Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.); Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa); Jim McGovern (D-Mass.); Mike Michaud (D-Maine); Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.); Bill Owens (D-N.Y.); Colin Peterson (D-Minn.); Trey Radel (R-Fla.); Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.); Martha Roby (R-Ala.); Phil Roe (R-Tenn.); Schock; Albio Sires (D-N.J.); Tim Walz (D-Minn.); Welch; Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.); Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.); Steve Womack (R-Ark.); and Greg Walden (R-Ore.).
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. Together they represent an $88.5 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 300,000 individuals, including over 62,000 pharmacists. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com/.
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