NACDS supports Senate move to delay bidding program; bill's sponsor warns of the cost


ALEXANDRIA , Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores released a statement today praising the introduction of legislation in the Senate that will delay and reform Medicare’s competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies.

The Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act of 2008 (S. 3144), the Senate’s companion bill to last week’s H.R. 6252 of the same name, was introduced by Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member of the committee Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

According to NACDS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has excluded diabetic supplies sold at retail pharmacies from the competitive bidding program in part because of the unique nature of this disease and its impact on beneficiaries. While providing meaningful safeguards and enhancement to the program, the sponsors of the bill rejected harmful proposals to freeze and/or cut the fee schedule for these products or expand competitive bidding to include diabetic products sold at retail pharmacies.

In a letter to the bill’s sponsors, NACDS declared its strong support for the Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Acquisition Reform Act. “We thank Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Grassley, and Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, for siding with Medicare beneficiaries and recognizing that interaction with pharmacists is critical in proper diabetes management,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “The Senate bill will help to ensure that suppliers are treated more fairly and that beneficiaries continue to have access to necessary items and services.”

House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee chairman Pete Stark, D-Calif., who sponsored the House bill alongside Health Subcommittee ranking member Dave Camp, R-Mich., warned that the delay does not come without a cost, however. The legislator estimates that the bill’s 18-month delay, which the DME industry would have to finance, could wind up increasing Medicare spending by $3.1 billion over five years.

“The Bush administration designed this program with blinders on to the needs of … the small companies that make up most of the DME industry,” Stark said, according to reports. “But as I told the industry from the start, this is no free lunch.”

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