APRIL 01, 2006

The results of a new study released by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) predict problems ahead for Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes if blood glucose monitors and related testing supplies are included in the new Medicare competitive acquisition program scheduled to start in 2007.

The study, conducted for the chain drug industry group by Health Policy R&D, raises particular concerns about the ability of pharmacies to continue to supply blood glucose monitors under the new program. These monitors, which NACDS called "an integral part of disease management for patients with diabetes," are currently covered under the durable medical equipment benefit in Medicare Part B.

Shifting glucose monitors and supplies to the competitive bidding system "could create a situation where Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes might be unable to access all aspects of their glucose management regimen—including their medications, monitors, supplies, and related professional services—from their community pharmacy of choice," NACDS said.

"CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] needs to be aware that competitive bidding for blood glucose meters and related supplies under Medicare Part B could potentially do more harm than good for beneficiaries," NACDS Senior Vice President Mary Ann Wagner said.