Medicare Patients' Continued Access To Diabetes Testing Products

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Diabetes Testing and Medicare

Medicare beneficiaries will be able to purchase diabetes testingproducts from their local pharmacy.

The rule is a victory for patients and community pharmacists who had opposed burdensome new federal government regulations that would have forced many small pharmacies to stop providing diabetes testing supplies.

Diabetes supplies that are purchased at community pharmacies, including blood glucose level monitors and testing strips and lancets, were among a short list of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) spared from CMS' new competitive bidding requirements that go into effect in 10 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) next year. Only diabetes supplies purchased via mail order will be subject to the competitive bidding requirement at this time.

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"We are grateful that CMS recognized the importance of patient access to these much-needed, life-saving tools from their local community pharmacy instead of through the impersonal and slower mail order system," said John Tilley, RPh, president of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and a pharmacy owner from Downey, Calif. "As a result, patients will continue to benefit from the indispensable advice provided by community pharmacists who can ensure that people with diabetes are monitoring their condition effectively."

NCPA, along with other organizations concerned with the rules' impact on the health and safety of Medicare beneficiaries, warned CMS that the proposed burdensome accreditation and competitive bidding requirements would dramatically reduce patient access to diabetes testing devices and other health care products.

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 mandated a three-step process for suppliers to submit and win competitive bids in order to provide certain DME supplies. First, starting in April 2008, an initial rollout would apply to 10 MSAs. Those MSAs were announced in the final rule and include:

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