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Lawmakers speak out for home delivery of diabetes supplies
November 8th, 2012
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Lawmakers drew praise from the National Community Pharmacists Association by calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue allowing community pharmacies to provide same-day home delivery of diabetes test supplies to certain Medicare patients.
NCPA said Wednesday that seven U.S. congressmen — Reps. Aaron Schock (R., Ill.), Peter Welch (D., Vt.), Jo Ann Emerson (R., Mo.), Morgan Griffith (R., Va.), Brett Guthrie (R., Ky.), Tom Marino (R., Pa.) and Louise Slaughter (D., N.Y.) sent a letter to CMS urging the agency to reconsider the ban on deliveries, a provision of CMS' competitive bidding policy for diabetes test supplies (DTS).
Under policy due to take effect July 2013, many community pharmacists would be prohibited from delivering diabetes test supplies to patients who are homebound or in assisted living communities, NCPA noted.
"When implemented, this policy will cause disruption in the care provided to Medicare patients," the representatives wrote in the letter. "We know that many Medicare Part B beneficiaries that are in need of DTS are homebound and may not have a caregiver available to pick up DTS from the local independent pharmacy."
They added, "In our view, this delivery prohibition could result in serious health consequences for Medicare patients and will help drive up costs. We ask that you review this policy expeditiously."
The letter's lead authors, Schock and Welch, are the original co-sponsors of The Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act (H.R. 1936), which NCPA said would allow small pharmacies (10 locations or fewer) to continue to provide patients with diabetes testing supplies and personal counseling on their use, as competitive bidding is implemented. The association noted that independent drug stores are often in underserved rural or inner-city locations, where there may be few, if any, other pharmacies or health care providers around.
"These lawmakers are absolutely justified in their concern for seniors and the independent pharmacists who care for them. We appreciate their bringing this issue to CMS' attention," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "Pharmacists help reduce health care costs for patients managing diabetes by mitigating the chances for more expensive treatments and interventions, such as hospitalizations. We hope that, through administrative or legislative action, independent community pharmacists can continue providing same-day home delivery to these most vulnerable of patients."
An NCPA 2012 survey of over 400 community pharmacists raised questions about the ability of independent pharmacists to be DTS providers under a competitive bidding system. About 92 percent of respondents said their pharmacies would be forced to leave the Medicare diabetes test supply program if presented with a sharp reduction in payments. Also, more than half said the average Medicare diabetic patient comes to their pharmacy at least three times per month for diabetic supplies and/or counseling.
Of the pharmacists polled, 83% indicated that there would be a significant impact on patients if they had to obtain diabetes supplies from mail order. And 45% reported they deliver diabetes test supplies to assisted living facilities — which would be prohibited under CMS' current competitive bidding proposal, NCPA noted.