Diabetes Caucus Asks GAO To Study Pay Cuts To Diabetes Test Strips
From: Inside Health Policy
Diabetes Caucus co-chairs Dianna DeGette (D-CO) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) are asking the Government Accountability Office to study whether pay cuts for retail diabetic test strips have made those supplies more difficult to find. Medicare reimbursement is set to plummet on July 1 due to the latest round of competitive bidding cuts and savings wrapped into the end-of-the-year Medicare physicians payment package.
DeGette and Whitfield, in a Feb. 27 letter, say they are concerned about the impact of the lowered reimbursements on Medicare beneficiaries’ access to their current diabetes testing strips and the corresponding glucose monitor. “We think it is incumbent upon us to make sure that the current quality of care is upheld,” the letter says.
The legislators have asked the GAO report back to Congress the number of suppliers offering diabetic test strips to beneficiaries, the types, amount and quality of brands offered, and the distance those in rural areas must travel to access the strips. The GAO also should study patients adherence to testing regimens and whether access to supplies affects adherence.
The lawmakers asked that the study begin immediately, and it should monitor access to supplies after the cuts take place. The National Community Pharmacists Association praised DeGette and Whitfield for their efforts.
Cuts are expected to begin in April, the lawmakers say, going into full force July 1, when the prices for the second round of durable medical equipment and diabetic testing supplies take effect. Retail diabetic test strip prices were folded in with mail-order diabetic test strip prices as part of the legislative package at the beginning of the year, and saved $600 million.
NCPA blasted that measure and said that up to 92 percent of pharmacists surveyed will stop selling the test strips. NCPA urged legislators as they considered the package to protect independent pharmacies, and consider modifying the provision to allow for a narrow exemption for small, independent pharmacies with 10 stores or less.
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