Inside This Issue - News
Less access to diabetes testing supplies a danger
November 7th, 2011
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The “super committee” seeking ways to cut the federal deficit should maintain Medicare recipients’ access to diabetes testing supplies at retail pharmacies, says National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.
In a letter to the co-chairmen of the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Anderson argued that limiting access to testing supplies could lead to poorer health outcomes and escalating costs of care.
Writing to Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), Anderson 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.
Emphasizing that patients with diabetes get preventive services in retail pharmacies, he encouraged the consideration of such alternative approaches as moving coverage of testing supplies from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D, which would produce program savings without compromising beneficiary access and health.
While diabetes testing supplies are considered durable medical equipment under Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has excluded the supplies furnished by retail pharmacies from competitive bidding — a move that Anderson hailed 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 [supplies] in Medicare, since competitive bidding reimbursement rates are below product costs for retail pharmacies,” Anderson wrote.
“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 all of the equipment and prescription drugs they need to manage their disease from a single source.”
He added that cutting reimbursements to retail pharmacy also would result in counterproductive consequences. And he said that below-cost reimbursements 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,” Anderson wrote in the letter.