Legislation seeks to preserve patient access to diabetes supplies at community pharmacies

WASHINGTON — Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., on Monday introduced legislation that would exempt community pharmacies with less than 10 locations from having to participate in Medicare competitive acquisition programs and pricing when it comes to the sale of blood-glucose meters and supplies.

Under present regulations, H.R. 1936, the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, will require that everybody who sells durable medical equipment either be included in competitive bidding or have competitive prices applied to them in 2016. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have indicated the agency would include community pharmacists in the application of that law.

That factor could push many pharmacies out of the DME/diabetes supply business. “Without enactment of this legislation, or a comparable exemption, seniors would suffer diminished access as small pharmacies could no longer offer these supplies and provide face-to-face guidance,” stated Douglas Hoey, EVP and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association as part of a release in support of the bill issued Tuesday. “Most independent pharmacies will not be able to meet the competitive bidding requirement to service an entire metropolitan statistical area and to match the cut-rate bid prices of giant mail-order facilities.”

The bill was referred to both the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Committee on Ways and Means.