PHARMACISTS PROTEST NEW MEDICARE DME RULES

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Proposed new federal restrictions onthe right of pharmacists to supply Medicarepatients with wheelchairs, walkers,and other types of durable medicalequipment (DME) could create hardshipsfor millions of American seniors,warned officials of the NationalCommunity Pharmacists Association(NCPA).

At issue is the so-called CompetitiveAcquisition Program developed by theCenters for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It seeks to imposenew standards for pharmacists who supply Medicare beneficiarieswith DME, as well as prosthetics, orthotics, therapeuticshoes, diabetes supplies, nebulizers, immunizations, andMedicare Part B medications.

Under the proposal, pharmacists would be required toobtain additional accreditation and submit to a competitivebidding process in order to continue to sell these supplies toMedicare beneficiaries beginning in 2007. According toNCPA, this new requirement creates huge administrativeburdens for pharmacists that could affect the availability ofDME for millions of American seniors.

"Pharmacists already are highly educated, licensed by thestate, and uniquely qualified to serve as the medication andmedical device expert for their patients," said NCPAExecutive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer BruceRoberts, RPh. "To require an additional level of accreditationto sell [DME] such as diabetes testing strips is unnecessarilyburdensome and unfairly stacks the deck against familypharmacies."

The association estimates that the initial accreditation will take70 hours to complete at an estimated cost of $7000 to $17,000per pharmacist. As a result, an NCPA member survey found thatonly about 3 in 10 pharmacists plan to seek the accreditationnecessary to continue to supply DME under Medicare.