Rx groups back jobs measure

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WASHINGTON — One of the job creation bills being considered in the Senate contains good news for community pharmacy operators.

The legislation includes a six-month extension of a temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).That would maintain federal funding for state Medicaid programs at the current higher level through the end of June 2011.

The temporary increase, which was originally passed with National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ strong urging at the beginning of 2009, will expire at the end of 2010 unless an extension is enacted. NACDS, which has lobbied for the extension, says it is essential given the tremendous budget pressures that states are experiencing.

This version of the jobs bill would conditionally exempt many pharmacies from the requirement that they be accredited as Medicare durable medical equipment (DME) providers. NACDS has argued that the accreditation rules is duplicative and unnecessary given the state licensing requirements that already exist for pharmacies, and the many regulations that already apply to pharmacy practice.

“By helping to maintain access to pharmacy patient care, [the Senate bill’s] provisions will improve lives and help to reduce long-term health costs that result when patients stray from the necessary treatments, such as those associated with chronic disease,” says NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.

“NACDS has urged the advancement of these measures and will continue to work for their passage and enactment, so that patients can benefit from their pharmacies’ role as the face of neighborhood health care.”

Meanwhile, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) voiced its support for the economic stimulus bill introduced by Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

“This legislation will help to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid patients can continue relying on their community pharmacist to meet their health needs in a cost-effective manner,” notes NCPA executive vice president and CEO Bruce Roberts. “These provisions benefit patients and their community pharmacies. We appreciate their inclusion in what will be priority legislation.”

NCPA says the bill would also extend small business loan guarantees that were part of the 2009 stimulus package, continue COBRA health insurance premiums and allow 15-year straight-line cost recovery for certain retail improvements.


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