Lupin 2023

DME regs new hurdle for retail pharmacy

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Imminent deadlines for accreditation and bonding to provide durable medical equipment threatens pharmacies’ ability to care for Medicare patients with diabetes, say pharmacy advocates.

Besides needing accreditation by October 1 to provide durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS), pharmacies and other suppliers must purchase a $50,000 surety bond per location by the following day. The bond, which is needed to dispense such products, including diabetes testing supplies, is intended to protect Medicare from fraudulent billing.

A letter to congressional leaders from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and other retail and pharmacy associations says the requirements “will reduce beneficiaries’ access to prescribed drugs and supplies through their community pharmacies and could cause disruptions in their health care.”

The letter cites a study showing that nearly two-thirds of older diabetes patients obtain their test strips from community pharmacies.

“Pharmacist-provided counseling and services increase patient compliance and adherence to their diabetes treatment regimens, resulting in clinically significant improvements in health outcomes,” it says. “Disrupting the relationship between beneficiaries and their community pharmacists is ill advised in view of pharmacists’ important role in promoting patient adherence to blood glucose monitoring and treatment.”

The letter also cites an estimate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that over 25,000 suppliers will exit Medicare rather than comply with the requirements. With retail pharmacies representing the largest category of Medicare DMEPOS suppliers, “unfortunately that number likely includes many community pharmacies who will find these requirements to be cost-prohibitive, resulting in many patients being unable to obtain their necessary drugs and supplies,” it points out.

The letter endorses legislation introduced by such lawmakers as Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) and Rep. Zack Space (D., Ohio) that seeks to provide a conditional exemption for pharmacies from the surety bond and accreditation mandates.

Cosigning the letter with NACDS president and chief executive Steven Anderson were National Community Pharmacists Association executive vice president and CEO Bruce Roberts, Food Marketing Institute president and CEO Leslie Sarasin, and National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations executive vice president and CEO Rebecca Snead.

NACDS also addressed a recent Roll Call column that called for an intensified focus on diabetes.

“After reading your article, I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts and sentiments,” Anderson wrote to Morton Kondracke, executive editor of the Capitol Hill publication. “However, there is one missing piece in your proposed ‘war’ on diabetes — the role of pharmacists in helping to improve patient health outcomes and the federal regulations that threaten the patient/pharmacist relationship.’’

Anderson expressed his views through NACDS’ Rapid Response Program, which was created to address “inaccurate or inappropriate portrayals of pharmacy’’ or call attention to an issue that impacts the pharmacy industry.


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