Alexandria, Va. - May 9, 2012 The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) submitted comments today to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, urging lawmakers to support legislation that would both reduce costs and preserve seniors' access to diabetes testing supplies and face-to-face counseling at independent community pharmacies.
NCPA has endorsed the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act (H.R. 1936), legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.). It would allow seniors to continue receiving essential diabetes testing supplies, and expert counseling on their proper use, from independent community pharmacies. In its comments to the committee, which held a hearing on the subject today, NCPA recommended lawmakers support H.R. 1936.
"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," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "At the same time, this proposal will reduce Medicare costs because it improves health outcomes."
H.R. 1936 would permanently exempt 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 enactment of this legislation, or a comparable exemption, small pharmacies would drop out of the DMEPOS program, according to a 2011 survey NCPA conducted of over 800 community pharmacists. Such an outcome could diminish access for seniors as independent community pharmacies are often located in underserved rural and inner-city areas. According to the same survey, 67 percent of NCPA member pharmacies provide durable medical equipment to patients.
H.R. 1936 will also reduce costs for the Medicare system and for Congress. First, it would give more seniors access to a face-to-face consultation on the proper use of diabetes testing supplies, thereby reducing the potential for costlier medical interventions that can result from inaccurate readings. Second, it would allow for competitive bidding to move forward for larger retail providers. Third, H.R. 1936 would result in less wasteful spending, such as through mail order auto-shipping that results in large volumes of supplies that go unused by patients.
"Community pharmacists urge Congress to support this legislation in the interests of the seniors and small businesses that they represent," Hoey added. "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. Together they represent a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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