ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Legislation that would extend increased federal assistance to state Medicaid programs and remedy the accreditation requirement for pharmacies selling durable medical equipment (DME) drew praise this week from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
NACDS said Tuesday it sent a letter to Senate Health Care Subcommittee chairman John Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) to express support for his bill, S. 3000, which would extend for six months the temporary hike in federal funds for state Medicaid programs.
The association also applauded a provision of the recently unveiled Democratic Senate jobs bill that would ease what chain drug retailers see as stringent accreditation and surety bond requirements for pharmacies providing DME via Medicare.
NACDS noted that with the uncertain timing of the Senate’s consideration of the jobs bill, it’s urging the inclusion of Sen. Rockefeller’s bill in that legislation as an amendment or through some other mechanism. The Rockefeller bill would extend until June 2011 the temporary increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) that originally was included in last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act legislation.
"NACDS emphasizes the importance of patients’ taking their medications appropriately," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. "Extending the current FMAP increase means states are less likely to cut their Medicaid program benefits and jeopardize the ability of our most vulnerable patients to stay on their medication therapies."
NACDS added that a provision in the Democratic Senate jobs bill would provide relief from the DME accreditation requirements.
"Pharmacies should not be subject to duplicative, unnecessary requirements that have the effect of reducing DME access for patients," Anderson remarked. "This issue was among the most frequently raised topics at the NACDS Regional Chain Conference this week, and it remains a top priority for this association."
The National Community Pharmacists Association also has applauded Senate leaders for including in the jobs bill a permanent exemption for most community pharmacies from Medicare’s accreditation requirements for DME providers.
"NCPA strongly supports the Medicare provision. It will give Medicare beneficiaries, especially those in rural areas, access to diabetes testing strips and other essential medical products from trusted providers at their local pharmacies," NCPA executive vice president and CEO Bruce Roberts said in a statement. "Enactment of this provision will both benefit patients and realize a longtime legislative priority of NCPA. We especially want to thank Sens. Max Baucus, Charles Grassley, Sam Brownback and Jon Tester for all their work."
Roberts pointed out that pharmacists are already state-licensed and that 17 other state-regulated health care providers have been exempted from the regulation.
"It’s simply unreasonable to ask community pharmacists, many of whom derive only a small fraction of their business from these sales while providing a substantial benefit to the community, to complete such an expensive, time-consuming accreditation process every three years in order to stay in this market," he explained. "Those pharmacies that already completed the accreditation process will be spared the time and expense of repeating the process two years from now."
*Editor’s Note: Story updated Feb. 12 to include comment from the NCPA.