Wait no more: Ban on diabetes deliveries is shortsighted

Friday, January 31, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – With bills in the House of Representatives and now the Senate, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) hopes to finally see some action allowing community pharmacies to deliver diabetes testing supplies.

“Before the ban on deliveries took effect, many lawmakers wanted to wait and see (what the impact would be),” said Kevin Schweers, senior vice president of government affairs for the association.

The Diabetic Testing Supply Access Act, S. 1935, was introduced Jan. 16 by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and John Thune, R-S.D. A similar bill was introduced in the House July 26.

The ban was effective July 1, when the national mail-order program for diabetes supplies was implemented. With pharmacies already delivering other prescriptions to seniors, many of whom are homebound or have limited mobility, the ban is short sighted, says Schweers, especially with a recent spate of harsh winter weather across the country.

“We have heard a number of complaints from our members,” he said. “Beneficiaries, especially those in rural areas, are forced to go and travel great distances through difficult weather or encounter icy sidewalks.”

Provider Steve Nelson doesn’t worry about icy sidewalks at his Okeechobee, Fla.-based Okeechobee Discount Drugs, but he does worry that lawmakers and CMS don’t understand the impact the ban has had on seniors.

“They think everything is hunky-dory,” said Nelson, president/CEO. “But the constituents are not being taken care of properly.”

Stakeholders will now work to build support for both bills, and they say there’s no time to waste.

“It’s a short legislative year, and an election year,” said Schweers. “If this cannot move on its own, I think we’ll be looking for other reasonable pieces of legislation that it might be attached to.”