Community pharmacies received a brief reprieve recently after President Obama signed into law a bill extending new accreditation requirements set to begin Sept. 30. Now industry groups are pushing to eliminate the new hurdles all together.
Pharmacy groups had argued for months that the new requirements for sellers of durable medical equipment and diabetic supplies shouldn’t apply to the industry. Part of a rule imposed in January by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, the new accreditation process required DME suppliers to obtain a $50,000 surety bond for each business outlet, among a host of other mandates.
The bill signed by President Obama extends the compliance period through December.
“We applaud President Obama for signing into law legislation that will extend the accreditation requirement for pharmacies to provide durable medical equipment in the Medicare Part B program until January 1, 2010,” Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said in a news release. “The legislation will help ensure that Medicare beneficiaries can continue to obtain diabetic supplies, other DME products, and counseling from their trusted pharmacies and pharmacists.”
But many pharmacy groups are doubling down, pushing legislators to exempt pharmacies entirely from the new regulations. There are currently exemption possibilities for several types of DME suppliers, including government suppliers, private physicians and physical and occupational therapists.
But there were no exemptions created for pharmacies or nursing homes. Some pharmacy groups plan to use the delay as a springboard to get pharmacies permanent immunity.
“Congress now has a three-month window to add pharmacists to all the other health care providers exempt from the time-consuming, costly, and redundant Medicare Part B DME accreditation requirement,” Bruce Roberts, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, said in a news release. “When this permanent solution is added to this temporary solution of a delay, seniors will be the ones who truly benefit. They will be able to continue getting these critical medical supplies, like diabetes testing strips, from their local pharmacy where many of their health care needs are being met.
“Without additional action,” Roberts added, “thousands of independent community pharmacies will be forced out of the program.”