Bill: Carve out community pharmacies

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WASHINGTON - Community pharmacies are making another play at keeping themselves out of the competitive bidding program.

On May 23, Reps. Aaron Shock, R-Ill. and Peter Welch, D-Vt., introduced the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, which seeks to exempt community pharmacies with 10 or fewer locations from having to competitively bid for diabetes testing supplies.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) lauded the bill, saying that requiring pharmacies to bid on diabetes supplies, which often comprise less than 10% of their businesses, would be overly burdensome. The association also says it would threaten beneficiary access.

"The in-person counseling provided by pharmacists is critical to helping many patients properly use glucose monitors," stated Doug Hoey, NCPA executive vice president and CEO, in a release. "Without face-to-face counseling, seniors may incorrectly interpret glucose readings, triggering either a false alarm or a mistaken sense of security."

Currently, the competitive bidding program applies only to diabetes supplies obtained through mail order, but CMS has indicated that it may expand the program to include supplies obtained at retail locations.

A similar bill introduced last year collected 24 co-sponsors.