Tester announces new law preserving rural seniors’ access to medical supplies

Senator applauds extension of access, continues work on permanent fix

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester today announced that a bill to preserve access to medical supplies for seniors in rural areas was signed into law by the President.

Tester championed the measure in the Senate to postpone new regulations on the sale of medical supplies by community pharmacies. 

Without the extension, community pharmacies would have been required to be accredited before selling certain medical supplies.  These supplies include wheelchairs, walkers, canes, diabetes testing strips and prosthetics. 

Tester argued that the accreditation process can be expensive and time consuming for community pharmacies that are often the only option for seniors in rural communities.  He also argued that accreditation is redundant, as pharmacies are already subject to oversight and regulation as medical professionals and as state-licensed businesses.

Tester helped push through this temporary fix by postponing the new regulations while he works to pass a permanent solution.

“I know first-hand that the cost of providing this equipment and third party reimbursement is making it impossible for patients in Montana’s small towns to get the services they need,” said Josh Morris, independent pharmacy owner in Boulder, West Yellowstone and Whitehall, Montana.  “We appreciate Senator Tester’s hard work to find a solution to this problem.”

“With this extension, Montana’s rural seniors will continue to have access to the care they need,” said Tester.  “I’ll keep working for a permanent fix so that folks in rural areas don’t have to drive for hours to get needed medical supplies.”

“This is about making sure nothing stands between Montanans and the supplies and care they need, ”said Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee who is leading efforts to reform the nation’s health care system.  “This is a good first step towards making sure Montana’s rural seniors are taken care of.”

Tester says he will now continue work with his colleagues in the Senate and with Montanans to find a permanent solution to the problem.