NCPA: DMEPOS competitive bidding will drive indies out of diabetes business

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Tuesday released results from a survey of more than 800 independent community pharmacists about the negative consequences for their patients and their businesses if diabetes testing supplies under Medicare Part B are subjected to competitive bidding prices.

“The message from our survey is clear: applying competitive bidding prices for diabetes testing supplies to independent community pharmacies is financially unsustainable for these pharmacies,” stated NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey.

“Community pharmacists are indispensable to helping combat diabetes, whether it is the counseling they offer, the medications they dispense, the lifestyle modification classes they provide or the testing supplies they carry,” Hoey added. “But that dynamic will be harmed if these small business pharmacies are forced to walk away from a pricing structure that only a large warehouse can make work. Such a mass exodus of community pharmacies from Medicare Part B would diminish seniors’ access and the health complications that could ensue will only increase overall health costs.”

Survey results included:

  • 81% of independents reported that their average Medicare diabetes patient visits his or her independent community pharmacy two or more times per month for counseling and/or diabetes testing supplies;
  • 84% of community pharmacists surveyed said they would likely drop out of the program if forced to take reduced payments or competitively bid;
  • If their patients were forced to obtain diabetes supplies by other means, 84% of pharmacists said their patients would suffer a significant impact; and
  • The overwhelming majority (81%) of independent community pharmacies regularly deliver diabetes testing supplies to patients — often free of charge — with 28% making 30 or more deliveries per month. Without that home delivery and counseling from a community pharmacist, 65% of pharmacists predicted a significant impact on these patients, many of whom are homebound.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has indicated that by 2016, providers of these supplies, which include testing strips, monitors, lancets and glucose control solutions, will either have to accept prices established under the mail-order competitive bidding process or competitively bid in order to continue participating in the Durable Medical Equipment, Orthotics, Prosthetics and Supplies program.

In July 2011, the average retail single payment amount for diabetes testing supplies was $37.67, whereas the Round 1 Competitive Bidding Program single payment amount for January 2011 was $14.62.

For the full survey, click here.

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