From: Home Care Magazine

WASHINGTON — In a Jan. 12 letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the National Community Pharmacists Association repeated its request for a permanent competitive bidding exemption for community pharmacies.

The letter included the NCPA’s recommendations on several regulations, including competitive bidding for diabetes testing supplies, that it said would “undermine patient access to cost-saving services and disadvantage the small businesses that provide this care.”

“Federal programs like Medicare place a premium on patient access, and independent community pharmacies help by often being located in underserved rural and urban locales. So if burdensome regulations either limit or end their participation, then many patients may be left without a reasonable alternative,” NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a release on the letter.

The requirement that diabetes testing supplies and other products “be competitively bid or subject to a similar pricing scheme will cause disruption in services, and interim regulations will prevent community pharmacies from serving homebound beneficiaries because that service has been placed under the mail order category even though community pharmacies are supposed to be exempted from mail order competitive bidding,” Jaeger said.

According to the letter:

“NCPA supports a permanent exemption for independent pharmacies from competitive bidding, as well as authorization to continue providing home delivery outside of the competitive bidding program. Because small independent pharmacies do not get the discounts that large mail order or chain pharmacies do, if they are not permanently excluded from the competitive bidding program and are not authorized to provide home delivery, this will mean that they will likely drop out of the program, reducing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to these supplies.”

Read the letter in full at http://www.ncpanet.org/pdf/leg/jan11/ncpa_let_chairman_issa.pdf.