Revisiting Diabetic Supply Availability

With so many changes taking place in the arena of health care it can be difficult to keep up. However, one change is already under consideration for revision. One provision for Medicaid would need to be changed in order to protect underserved members of America’s rural heritage.

Revisiting Diabetic Supply Availability: With so many changes taking place in the arena of health care it can be difficult to keep up. However, one change is already under consideration for revision. One provision for Medicaid would need to be changed in order to protect underserved members of America’s rural heritage.

Betty lives in Iowa in a small town several miles from a chain pharmacy. She has always relied on the independent small town pharmacist to help her manage her medications. In fact, Betty and the pharmacist go to the same church, but certain provisions in how diabetic medical supplies are bid would make it virtually impossible for the small town pharmacist to continue to provide the supplies. Essentially Betty will have to travel 35 miles one way to buy her supplies.

This same story could be true in places like Alaska, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana and the state list just gets longer and longer.

A bill designed to provide the greatest savings may not have taken into account the real needs of all diabetic patients. According to DrugStoreNews.com two lawmakers are determined to do something about it. “Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Mike Rogers, R-Mich, have introduced the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, a bill that exempts small pharmacies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ final competitive bidding program for Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.”

The struggle for small pharmacists is they do not have enough business to offer the sharp discounts a larger retail pharmacist can. If they could offer the same prices they would likely lose money on each sale. Since they don’t have the same buying power as larger retail counterparts they remain at a distinct disadvantage in how a price can be assigned by Medicaid services. The article from Drug Store News continues, “Small community pharmacies — currently classified by the Small Business Administration’s definition as having annual sales of $7 million dollars or less — would be able to maintain the pharmacist-senior patient relationship if this bill becomes law, since it would keep healthcare options for seniors who use DMEPOS, particularly those patients living in underserved areas.”

In a small community pharmacy in Kansas, Angie has been helping her neighbors understand drug interactions and drug benefits for years, yet she is faced with the disturbing possibility that her patrons may be required to use mail order or travel in order to get the same information and prescriptions from a larger and less familiar source. Bruce Roberts, NCPA (National Community Pharmacists Association) EVP and CEO agrees, “This legislation allows seniors to continue obtaining essential medical supplies like diabetes testing strips from their local community pharmacy. The current competitive bidding program favors larger healthcare providers at the expense of smaller ones like community pharmacies. As a result many seniors who get these supplies from community pharmacies could be forced to travel many miles or go through mail order without the face-to-face consultation that helps maximize health outcomes.”

If Welch and Rogers are successful in their Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act it will likely mean a greater comfort level in the way diabetic supplies are acquired by those on Medicare and Medicaid. While we don’t supply a political call to action you are certainly welcome to contact your representative and let him or her know how you feel about the availability of diabetic supplies to all Americans.

Author: Staff Writers

Content published on Diabetic Live is produced by our staff writers and edited/published by Christopher Berry. Christopher is a type 1 diabetic and was diagnosed in 1977 at the age of 3.