The National Community Pharmacists Association 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 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has indicated that by 2016 providers of these supplies, including 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 (DMEPOS) program. In July, the average retail single payment amount for diabetes testing supplies was $37.67, whereas the Round 1 Competitive Bidding Program single payment amount for was January was $14.62.
“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 and will hurt seniors,” Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, executive vice president and chief executive officer for the National Community Pharmacists Association, stated in a press release.
The survey, conducted in September and October, found the following:
- Eighty-one percent reported that their average Medicare diabetes patient visits their independent community pharmacy two or more times per month for counseling and diabetes testing supplies;
- Eighty-four percent 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
- Eighty-one percent 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.
“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 stated in the release. “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.”