NCPA keeps eye on host of issues
Like home medical equipment providers, community pharmacists battle with reimbursement cuts, audits and a host of other issues, says Doug Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association. On the heels of its annual conference, which was held Oct. 8-12 in Nashville, Tenn., Hoey spoke with HME News about the year's successes and some other issues that the association is keeping its eye on.
In May, Reps. Aaron Shock, R-Ill., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., introduced the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, which seeks to exempt small community pharmacies from having to competitively bid for diabetes testing supplies.
"We are optimistic that this will get passed and we can get them exempted for good," said Hoey. "We are pushing to get a companion bill and we've had a lot of interesting conversations. With Congress at an impasse, we don't have a sponsor yet, but we have received interest from a couple of senators."
The push toward mail order for diabetes supplies has created a wasteful system that borders on abuse, and it's a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, Hoey says.
"We have heard stories of boxes and boxes of strips being sent to patients, charged to Medicare and the patient can't use them fast enough," he said. "Or the patient is deceased and the supplies continue to mount up at the home. Is that really what the taxpayer wants to pay for? We think the answer is 'no.' Now, as we are trying to really stretch each dollar and look for efficiencies, I don't know how anyone can turn a blind eye to this waste."
Invasion of privacy
However, cracking down on abuse doesn't mean unleashing the auditors, Hoey says.
"Because the physician hasn't documented that they have prescribed four times daily checks with test strips, CMS says they won't pay and it's up to you to get the documentation," he said. "Our members can't always get access to that documentation. CMS is also asking patients to show testing logs. We used to run into problems on scooters and lift beds but this is 10 times more invasive."