House calls for GAO review of pending diabetes supply reimbursement changes

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday commended a bipartisan push for the Government Accountability Office to review the impact on patients of sharp reductions in reimbursement for diabetes test supplies provided by community pharmacies to Medicare beneficiaries. 

“We are concerned about the impact of this reimbursement reduction, and what it will mean for beneficiaries’ access to [diabetes testing supplies] and their ability to maintain their current brand of testing strips,” both Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., noted in a letter to the GAO. “We ask that you begin this study immediately as we believe that it is of the utmost importance to diabetes patients in America."

Specifically, the representatives asked GAO to examine the cuts’ impact on the number of DTS suppliers; the quality of the DTS available to beneficiaries; the distance beneficiaries may need to travel in rural areas to obtain their supplies; patient adherence to their testing regimen; and the degree to which beneficiaries receive DTS via mail that they did not request or do not need.

Reimbursement for DTS products is scheduled to be reduced in April and then again July 1 when one national payment rate is adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The two cuts combined represent a 72% average decrease in reimbursement for retail pharmacies.

Previous surveys of independent community pharmacists have found that 92% would be forced to stop offering DTS rather than accept below-cost reimbursement, NCPA noted.

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