The National Community Pharmacists Association is calling on lawmakers to back a bill that would preserve seniors' access to diabetes testing supplies and other durable medical equipment (DME).

National Community Pharmacists Association, NCPA, diabetes testing supplies, durable medical equipment, DME, H.R. 2375, Transparency and Accountability in Medicare Bidding Act, Medicare's competitive bidding, National Mail Order, B. Douglas Hoey, community pharmacies, independent pharmacies, same-day home deliveries, Glenn Thompson, Bruce Braley

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NCPA: Bill would uphold access to diabetes supplies

June 20th, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association is calling on lawmakers to back a bill that would preserve seniors' access to diabetes testing supplies and other durable medical equipment (DME).

NCPA on Thursday said that H.R. 2375, the Transparency and Accountability in Medicare Bidding Act, would delay the scheduled July 1 implementation of Medicare's competitive bidding and National Mail Order programs for diabetes test supplies until various issues can be resolved.

"This legislation is in the best interests of patients, which is why NCPA enthusiastically supports its enactment," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is set to implement cuts that together would account for a 72% reduction this year in pharmacy reimbursement for diabetes testing supplies, according to NCPA. That may force some community pharmacies to stop offering those products to seniors, which could result in access concerns in underserved rural and inner-city areas, as well as compel some seniors to switch from higher-quality glucose meters to lower-end models, the association said.

And in a move that NCPA called "senseless," CMS is imposing a ban on same-day home deliveries by independent pharmacies to homebound seniors and beneficiaries in assisted living facilities. Beginning July 1, Medicare will pay the same amount whether patients get their diabetes testing supplies in person from a local health care provider or via the mail, though CMS' new definition of "mail order" would prohibit community pharmacies from continuing to provide delivery services, NCPA said.

"The National Mail Order program policies Medicare is implementing are pennywise and pound-foolish because they run the significant risk of contributing to more hospitalizations and costly health care interventions for diabetes patients," Hoey explained. "In addition, by steering patients away from their longtime community pharmacist, Medicare's changes fly in the face of bipartisan efforts toward better coordinated care models, such as through medical homes and accountable care organizations."

H.R. 2375 was introduced by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R., Pa.) and Bruce Braley (D., Iowa). The legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Lou Barletta (R., Pa.), Bill Posey (R., Fla.), Tom Rooney (R., Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) and C.A. Ruppersberger (D., Md.).

"Many seniors may experience some disruption as both the providers and the equipment to which they are accustomed may no longer be available to them," Hoey added. "Some beneficiaries have relied on their community pharmacy for decades. There's no justification for banning these trusted providers from furnishing this service to some of Medicare's frailest populations — beneficiaries who are homebound or in assisted living facilities — at no added cost to the government."

NCPA noted that 43 members of Congress, led by Reps. Aaron Schock (R., Ill.) and Peter Welch (D., Vt.), recently wrote to CMS to question the ban on same-day home deliveries.

The new policy "will cause disruption in the care provided to Medicare patients," the lawmakers stated in the letter. "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. 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."