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Congress approves bill extending DME accreditation deadline

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Congress has passed a bill that delays the accreditation deadline through the year's end for pharmacies offering durable medical equipment under Medicare.

Under bill H.R. 3663, approved Monday by the Senate and last week by the House, the deadline for meeting accreditation requirements to continue providing Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) would get extended from September 30 to January 1.



Congress has passed a bill that postpones the accreditation deadline through the end of the year for pharmacies providing durable medical equipment under Medicare.

Under bill H.R. 3663, introduced by Reps. Zach Space (D., Ohio) and Lee Terry (R., Neb.), the deadline for meeting pharmacy accreditation requirements to continue offering Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) was extended from September 30, 2009, to January 1, 2010.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill on Monday after the House of Representatives passed it last week. If signed by President Obama, the legislation would delay the deadline for those products, which include diabetes testing supplies.

Instituting stricter guidelines, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) required suppliers of DMEPOS to get accreditation as of October 1 and obtain a $50,000 surety bond per location as of October 2 to provide those products and Part B medications to Medicare patients. Most health care providers — but not pharmacies — were exempted from that requirement.

"In the debate over health care reform legislation, 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," Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said in a statement.

"Millions of Americans count on their neighborhood pharmacies for diabetes monitoring supplies, insulin, and other medication and equipment needs," Anderson added.

Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, also applauded congressional approval of the bill. "The Senate acted wisely to ensure seniors can continue purchasing essential medical supplies from their community pharmacies," Roberts commented.

Both associations noted that the House and the Senate have included provisions to exempt pharmacies from the accreditation requirement in their health care reform proposals.

NACDS reported that 54 members of Congress also wrote a letter to acting CMS administrator Charlene Frizzera, requesting an immediate delay of the DME accreditation and $50,000 surety bond requirements for community pharmacies. The letter was led by Reps. Space, Marion Berry (D., Ark.), Jo Ann Emerson (R., Mo.) and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.).

"We thank Reps. Space and Terry, and Sens. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) for their leadership on this issue," Anderson stated, "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."


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