New Congress, new opportunity?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A new cast of characters in Congress has members of the Diabetes Access to Care Coalition (DACC) mapping out fresh strategies to exempt diabetes supplies from competitive bidding.
Mark Weller, senior vice president of B&D Consulting, which manages the coalition, said the new Congress could provide a more receptive audience for DACC's concerns.
"(Bill) Thomas was a big proponent of competitive bidding and he's no longer in Congress or in a position of influence," said Weller. "If you look at some of the new people and players and how they have in the past viewed competitive bidding, (it looks favorable)."
DACC partnered with the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and diabetes product manufacturers to convince CMS that NCB would limit patient access to needed supplies (See HME News November 2006).
The distribution model for diabetes products--which are often sold through retail pharmacies--differs from traditional DME businesses, said Weller.
While CMS estimates that 90% of Part B providers--of which pharmacies comprise the majority--will participate in NCB, NCPA conducted a survey that shows only about one third of pharmacies say they plan to do so (See HME News August 2006).
"When you begin to limit where people are used to purchasing those supplies, it creates disruption," said Weller. "You're running the risk of people not testing as frequently and that has a clear impact on downstream costs."