Lobbying groups urge Congress to keep diabetes testing supplies accessible to patients

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Pharmacy groups are urging Congress to maintain access to diabetic testing supplies in retail pharmacies for patients with diabetes.

In a letter to Senate and House leadership, the American Pharmacists Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations stated: "Medicare patients with diabetes rely heavily on local retail pharmacies for prescription medications and diabetes testing supplies. Pharmacists help seniors with diabetes understand the best way to use their diabetes testing equipment and are uniquely positioned to help identify changes in patients' conditions that may require additional referral and treatment. This coordinated care is vital to seniors with diabetes, helping them manage their disease, navigating through the various options available to them and preventing more costly interventions."

In 2003, Congress created the Medicare Part B competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment. While diabetic testing supplies are considered durable medical equipment under the Medicare program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services excluded diabetic testing supplies furnished by retail pharmacies from the competitive bidding process to ensure access to these supplies for diabetic patients. APhA, FMI, NACDS and NASPA are urging Congress to maintain the current exclusion in the competitive bidding program for all retail pharmacies providing diabetes testing supplies for Medicare beneficiaries.

"Ending the retail pharmacy exclusion from the competitive bidding program would be a major mistake. This would significantly reduce access to local pharmacies as a source of care. Limiting access to supplies and pharmacist consultation will lead to under-testing, decreased medication adherence, poorer outcomes and increased costs," the letter continued.