ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association lauded the Senate for approving its so-called "jobs bill," which includes key health care provisions that would benefit pharmacies and their patients.
The legislation, known as the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 4213), passed the Senate by a 62-36 vote and would extend tax breaks, jobless benefits and highway funds. For drug store operators, the measure would extend a temporary hike in federal funding for Medicaid plus ease accreditation requirements for pharmacies selling durable medical equipment (DME) to Medicare customers, NACDS and NCPA noted.
"NACDS commends the Senate for passing legislation today that is vital for pharmacy patient care. The NACDS members who are in Washington this week for the NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill will thank senators for advancing this legislation and urge its forward progress," Steve Anderson, NACDS president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
"The conditional exemption for pharmacy from the accreditation requirement for providing durable medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries makes sense. Pharmacies are state licensed and reputable health care providers, and other such providers have been afforded this exemption. This is an important step for maintaining seniors’ access to needed products from their neighborhood pharmacies," Anderson explained.
"The extension of the temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage is important given the troubling condition of state budgets and the need to prevent further Medicaid cuts that jeopardize care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable patients," he added.
NCPA urged the House of Representatives to take swift action and follow suit in passing the bill, which was introduced by Sens. Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Max Baucus (D., Mont.).
"The Senate did the right thing in approving provisions that help ensure Medicare and Medicaid patients’ access to health care is not compromised," NCPA executive vice president and CEO Bruce Roberts stated. "We want to express special thanks for the leadership of Sens. Max Baucus and Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) who, as the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, have long championed the need for exempting pharmacies from the unnecessary Medicare Part B accreditation requirements. Sen. Harry Reid is also to be commended for allowing these provisions to be included in the bill.
Roberts pointed out that the health care provisions give seniors more options to obtain important medical supplies, such as diabetes testing strips, and enable economically disadvantaged patients to buy necessary prescription drugs.
"Now it is critical that when House lawmakers consider moving their own ‘jobs’ bill that these pharmacy- and patient-friendly provisions be included," he commented. "When that occurs, we know that Reps. Marion Berry (D., Ark.), Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), Zach Space (D., Ohio), and Lee Terry (R., Neb.) will be at the forefront of those efforts as their previous leadership in addressing these concerns demonstrates."
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