In brief: Community pharmacists expand diabetes role

Sunday, September 20, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Community pharmacists can now receive training on how to conduct educational classes for diabetes patients thanks to a new partnership between the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). After fulfilling 16 hours of Diabetes Self-Management Education/Training (DSME/T), provided by the NCPA and AADE, community pharmacists will be eligible to serve as instructors within accredited diabetes education programs. After accumulating a certain amount of hours, they will be eligible to take the certified diabetes educator exam. The training will raise the profile of community pharmacists as clinically trained healthcare professionals and allow them to differentiate themselves from chain pharmacists and mail-order distributors of diabetes supplies.

Tax us? Find another way, says Invacare

ELYRIA, Ohio - There are better ways to reform the healthcare system than by taxing medical device manufacturers, says Invacare. The manufacturer sent a letter to Ohio senators last week urging them to reject a measure that would tax manufacturers and importers of class II or III medical devices about $4 billion annually to help pay for healthcare reform. The measure first came to light Sept. 8 as part of the Senate Finance Committee's healthcare reform framework. Then it was included this week as part of a draft healthcare reform bill released by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the committee. Invacare estimates the size of the U.S. device market to be about $131 billion. If the measure were to become law, it believes manufacturers would be taxed based on their market share, an average of about 3.1%. The letter, sent to Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, outlines several concerns that Invacare has with the proposed tax, including job losses, the elimination of research and development, increased healthcare costs, and increased burdens on patients.

Medtrade announces keynote

ATLANTA - A panel of speakers will discuss "The HME Industry--Strategies for the Future" as Medtrade's keynote address next month. Topics will include national competitive bidding, business line changes and retailing. Panelists are providers John Geller, Tim Pederson, Robert Steedley and Randy Wolfe. "Many of you are wondering what to do to keep your businesses viable in these troubling times," stated Pederson, CEO of WestMed Rehab in Rapid City, S.D., in a release. "Hear what we have done to keep our heads above the troubled waters of the HME industry." The panel discussion, which will be held in the Sidney Marcus Auditorium of the Georgia World Congress Center, is open to all Medtrade attendees and exhibitors.

Providers rate contractors

BALTIMORE - Providers, on average, rated their satisfaction with Medicare contractors 4.54 on a scale of 1 to 6, according to the results of a survey released last week. The annual Medicare Contractor Provider Satisfaction Survey allows CMS to gauge provider satisfaction with key services performed by Medicare fee-for-service contractors. Providers cited "provider inquiries" as the top indicator of satisfaction. Last year, providers, on average, rated their satisfaction 4.51. The survey was sent to more than 32,000 randomly selected providers, including physicians, suppliers, healthcare practitioners and institutional facilities that serve Medicare beneficiaries across the country.

Pharmacy association presses CMS for exemption

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) last week sent a letter urging CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera to use her authority to suspend the accreditation requirement for pharmacies. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have included provisions in healthcare reform bills that would exempt pharmacies, but with an Oct. 1 deadline to become accredited, any of that relief would come too late, says the association. "In light of substantial Congressional interest in exempting pharmacies from these accreditation requirements, and for the sake of avoiding confusion and disruption of care to our patients, we believe that CMS should hold off on applying the October 1 accreditation deadline," stated John Coster, senior vice president of government affairs for NCPA.

Reimbursement gap widens between brand-name neb-meds

BALTIMORE - There were no big changes in the latest average sales price figures for nebulizer medications, released Wednesday. Albuterol (J7613) dropped one cent to 12 cents per dose; levalbuterol (J7614) slid from 61 cents to 53 cents per dose; and generic DuoNeb (J7620) slid from 25 cents to 22 cents per dose. Ipratroprium (J7644) was up one cent to 21 cents per dose, while budesonide (J7626) was down two cents to $6.07 per dose. The two brand-name drugs, Brovana (J7605) and Perforomist (J7606) moved further apart in pricing, with Brovana down 7 cents to $5.01 per dose, while Perforomist increased 11 cents to $4.49 per dose.

Graymark continues growth

OKLAHOMA CITY - Graymark Healthcare acquired Avastra Eastern Sleep Centers, the company announced Sept. 16. The deal positions Graymark as the second largest sleep diagnostic and treatment company in the U.S., with locations in 11 states and projected annual revenues of $120 million. Graymark will change Avastra's name to Nocturna East. "This acquisition helps us achieve scale and geographical breadth as we become a national leader in quality sleep medicine," said Graymark CEO Stanton Nelson in a release. Last month, Graymark acquired somniCare and somniTech from Avastra. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.