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NACDS sends letter to super committee on patient health strategies related to diabetes care

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a letter to the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the super committee, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores provided recommendations related to diabetes testing supplies for Medicare patients. NACDS said its recommendations would prevent the unintended consequences of hasty policy mistakes, and foster better and more cost-effective patient care.

"We understand the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction must make difficult choices in order to find savings and rein in spending. However, we are concerned that the committee may consider changes that would impact access to diabetes testing supplies (DTS) for Medicare beneficiaries," NACDS wrote to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

NACDS urged the super committee to resist limiting access to DTS in a way that will lead to poorer health outcomes and escalating costs of care. NACDS specifically cautioned against moving any segment of retail pharmacy into the Medicare competitive bidding program and against reducing reimbursement for diabetes testing supplies obtained at a retail pharmacy to below-cost levels.

Rather, NACDS emphasized the preventive services that patients with diabetes encounter in their retail pharmacies, and encouraged the consideration of alternative approaches, such as moving coverage of diabetes testing supplies from Medicare Part B to Part D, which would produce program savings without compromising beneficiary access and health.

While diabetes testing supplies are considered DME under the Medicare program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has excluded diabetes testing supplies furnished by retail pharmacies from competitive bidding — a move that NACDS hails as "intentional and wise" and vital for "ensuring beneficiary access to these vital supplies."

"Without this exclusion, it is highly unlikely that retail pharmacies would be able to furnish DTS in Medicare, since competitive bidding reimbursement rates are below DTS product costs for retail pharmacies," NACDS explained in the letter. "Chain pharmacies, which make up 66% of retail community pharmacies, are a vital access point for both diabetes testing supplies and prescription medications. Maintaining access to diabetes testing supplies at local pharmacies allows seniors to access to all of the equipment and prescription drugs they need to manage their disease from a single source."

NACDS said in the letter that reducing reimbursement to retail pharmacy also would result in counter-productive consequences. NACDS said below-cost reimbursement cuts would "hurt access to care and severely limit the valuable role of pharmacist-patient interactions in reducing overall program spending."

"Reduced access and the elimination of face-to-face pharmacist counseling will lead to under-testing, decreased medication adherence, poorer outcomes, and increased overall costs," NACDS wrote.

To further capitalize on cost-saving opportunities, NACDS recommended moving diabetes-testing supplies from Medicare Part B to the Part D program. "Prescription drugs related to diabetes, such as insulin, are provided to Medicare beneficiaries through Part D," NACDS explained. "However, durable medical equipment such as diabetes monitors, testing strips and lancets are provided to Medicare beneficiaries through Part B. This results in difficulties coordinating care."

"Diabetes supplies should be covered through the Part D benefit," NACDS urged. "This would mirror commercial practices, would allow beneficiaries with diabetes to access necessary medications and supplies from the same provider if they chose, and would reduce costs by moving products to the more efficient Part D program, which continues to operate below Congressional Budget Office projections.  Conversely, proposals to expand the competitive bidding program to include retail pharmacy-provided diabetes testing supplies are inherently flawed, as they fail to take into account that fragmenting care for Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will inevitably result in increased costs."


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Dove to hold second annual Dove Self-Esteem Weekend

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Unilever’s Dove brand is launching a nationwide effort to help girls build self-esteem by holding its second annual Dove Self-Esteem Weekend on Oct. 21 to 23, which brings together Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc. and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and encourages women to spend an hour on a self-esteem building activity.
 
Research revealed that it is important to address anxiety about looks at an early age. A recent global study commissioned by Dove entitled "The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited" revealed that only 11% of girls would describe themselves as beautiful. This lack of self-esteem only worsens as girls get older.

According to the study, 80% of women agreed that every woman has something about her that is beautiful but do not see their own beauty. More than half (54%) of women agreed that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst critics.

Research also found that 72% of girls felt tremendous pressure to be beautiful and only 11% are comfortable using the word "beautiful" to describe themselves.

When girls feel bad about their looks, more than 70% (ages 15 to 17 years) avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, going to the doctor or even giving their opinion. A universal increase in beauty pressure leads to a decrease in girls’ confidence.

According to Dove it is committed to inspiring all women and girls to reach their full potential by caring for themselves and each other. Women joining the movement will receive regular updates on a variety of ways to get involved. Currently, women can participate in the following ways:

  • Join Dove for the second annual Dove Self-Esteem Weekend: Women can show that amazing things can happen when they all come together by registering their Weekend activities on the interactive map at Facebook.com/Dove. Dove has already reached more than eight million girls with self-esteem education and hopes to reach 15 million girls by 2015.

  • Answer the question "Who Inspired You?" on Dove online channels: Facebook, Twitter and Dove.com, to honor the positive impact someone had on their life. When women share their story, the company will make a $1 donation to support self-esteem education in the United States.

  • Download tools: Visit Dove.com to access free tools to build self-esteem in young girls.

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Shopkick teams up with Giant Eagle

BY Allison Cerra

PALO ALTO, Calif. — A location-based mobile shopping application has teamed up with a supermarket chain to reward users for buying specific products or brands.

Shopkick said users that shop at Giant Eagle now can utilize the app’s Kickbuys technology at any of the chain’s 228 stores. Shopkick users can collect thousands of "kicks" by buying featured products from many of the world’s leading brands, Shopkick said.

"We believe that Shopkick’s location-based shopping app is a valuable addition to our growing array of mobile customer offerings, led by our Giant Eagle app and e-offers digital coupon program," Giant Eagle spokesman Rob Borella said. "Much like our Fuelperks! and Foodperks! customer loyalty programs, Kickbuys are another unique way for customers to be rewarded for choosing to shop in our stores."

The Shopkick app is available for free on the iPhone from the App Store and on Android Market.

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