Bill seeks to preserve seniors’ access to diabetes supplies at community pharmacies

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Mike Rogers, R-Mich, have introduced the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, a bill that exempts small pharmacies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ final competitive bidding program for Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.

Small community pharmacies -- currently classified by the Small Business Administration’s definition as having annual sales of $7 million dollars or less -- would be able to maintain the pharmacist-senior patient relationship if this bill becomes law, since it would keep healthcare options for seniors who use DMEPOS, particularly those patients living in underserved areas.

The bill's introduction was backed by the National Community Pharmacists Association, which said that the “common-sense legislative solution” will keep community pharmacies in business, as most competitive bidding requires DMEPOS suppliers to submit a bid to be awarded a contract -- because of their size, many community pharmacies face this hurdle and ultimately are forced out the program by larger suppliers.

“This legislation allows seniors to continue obtaining essential medical supplies like diabetes testing strips from their local community pharmacy,” said Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO. “The current competitive bidding program favors larger healthcare providers at the expense of smaller ones like community pharmacies. As a result many seniors who get these supplies from community pharmacies could be forced to travel many miles or go through mail order without the face-to-face consultation that helps maximize health outcomes.”

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