Lawmakers: Lift ban on deliveries

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – An increasing number of lawmakers are worried that community pharmacies have been shut out from delivering diabetes testing supplies to the homes of Medicare beneficiaries.

In a June 26 letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., expressed his concerns about the impact on beneficiaries in rural areas. His letter follows a similar letter in May, led by Reps. Aaron Shock, R-Ill., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., and signed by 41 other representatives.

“Lawmakers are scratching their heads and trying to figure out why our members should not be able to deliver to homebound beneficiaries and those in assisted living facilities,” said Ronna Hauser, vice president, policy and regulatory affairs, for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). 

Under a national mail-order program that went into effect July 1, only a small number of contract suppliers can ship or deliver supplies to Medicare beneficiaries. Non-contract suppliers can still provide supplies, but only in their stores and at the mail-order rate. 

There’s simply no need to ban home deliveries, say industry stakeholders. It makes no sense for pharmacies to leave the test strips back at the shop while delivering other medications, they say.

“Pharmacists just want to do the right thing and be able to continue to provide care to their patients,” said Hauser. 

The NCPA has also expressed its concerns to CMS officials, but so far, the agency isn’t budging, says Hauser.