WASHINGTON — Though community pharmacy groups praised Congress’ decision last week to delay the accreditation deadline for pharmacies providing durable medical equipment (DME) under Medicare, they continue to seek an exemption for drug retailers.
“In the debate over health care reform legislation, we continue 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,” says National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.
Bills rolling back the accreditation deadline to January 1 passed the Senate on October 5 and the House of Representatives on September 30.
Both bills also contain provisions to exempt pharmacies from having to be accredited if they want to sell such DME products as diabetes testing supplies.
While most health care providers were exempted from this requirement, pharmacies were not. Advocates for the industry contend that the accreditation requirement is duplicative, costly and unnecessary given state licensing and the extensive regulation of pharmacies and pharmacists. They hope the rollback of the deadline will give them time to convince Congress to create a permanent exemption.
Besides the legislation, 54 members of Congress have written a letter to acting Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Charlene Frizzera, requesting an immediate delay of the DME accreditation and $50,000 surety bond requirements for pharmacies.
“Millions of Americans count on their neighborhood pharmacies for diabetes-monitoring supplies, insulin and other medication and equipment needs,” Anderson says. “We thank [the lawmakers] for their leadership on this issue, and we urge President Obama to sign this bill into law, since there is virtual unanimous support for the role pharmacy plays in Medicare Part B.”