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Lawmakers back pharmacy deliveries of diabetes supplies
May 22nd, 2013
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Forty-three U.S. representatives are questioning Medicare's decision to prohibit community pharmacies from providing same-day home delivery of diabetes testing supplies to homebound seniors.
The National Community Pharmacists Association said Wednesday that the congressmen, led by Reps. Aaron Schock (R., Ill.) and Peter Welch (D., Vt.), are calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to forgo the policy change, scheduled to go into effect on July 1.
"We write to request that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 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. "If implemented in July 2013, this policy will cause disruption in the care provided to Medicare patients."
NCPA noted that CMS is slashing reimbursement levels for pharmacies providing diabetes test supplies to seniors via the Medicare Part B program. As of July 1, uniform payment rates will apply to both mail-order and local pharmacy providers.
"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," the congressmen stated in the letter. "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."
B. Douglas Hoey, chief executive officer of NCPA, called it "absurd policy" to ban independent pharmacies from providing same-day home delivery of DTS, given that the vast majority of those pharmacies offer the service and it reflects their high level of patient care.
"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," he said in a statement.
What's more, inadequate reimbursement may compel some independent drug stores to stop offering DTS, 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," he stated. "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."