Action to Delay DME Deadline Helps Pharmacies

Pharmacies scored an important victory last week when both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed legislation (HR 3663) to delay the imposition of new accreditation requirements on pharmacies that provide durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS) to Medicare beneficiaries.

If signed into law by President Obama, HR 3663 would extend until December 31, 2009, the Centers for Medicare&Medicaid Services (CMS) deadline for pharmacies to obtain accreditation to furnish DMEPOS. The extension will afford lawmakers additional time to permanently exempt pharmacists from the regulation as part of the health reform legislation currently moving through Congress.

Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), said that without the legislative extension, "thousands of independent community pharmacies would be forced to stop supplying diabetes testing supplies and other products to their patients."

Nearly every health reform proposal currently under consideration on Capitol Hill contains some sort of pharmacy exemption, NCPA reports. The association points out that the accreditation requirements have proved to be "onerous, expensive, and duplicative for community pharmacists who already must meet state licensing requirements."

In addition to the legislation, 54 members of Congress wrote to Acting CMS Commissioner Charlene Frizzera requesting an immediate delay of the DMEPOS accreditation and $50,000 surety bond requirements for pharmacies.

"In the debate over health care reform legislation, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores [NACDS] continues to advocate for an exemption for pharmacy from this accreditation requirement, as well as from the surety bond requirement-exemptions that have been afforded to other health care providers," said Steven Anderson, NACDS president and chief executive officer.

The DMEPOS provisions are not the only ones pharmacy advocates are hoping will be included in the final health reform bill. NCPA, for example, has written to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) urging fair Medicaid generic drug reimbursements; transparency for pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in health care exchanges; the use of pharmacy benefit administrators and not PBMs for any new, government-negotiated plans; application of prompt-pay requirements for Medicare Part D coverage gap programs; and inclusion of pharmacist-delivered medication therapy management services.

For other articles in this issue, see:

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Pharmacists May Someday Give Cocaine Shot

Most Patients Lack Medication List, Don't Know Your Name