NCPA Urges Senate Majority Leader Reid to Back DMEPOS Pharmacy Exemption Before Deadline

Alexandria, Va. - February 17, 2010

Last week Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced their bipartisan "jobs" bill, which contained several health care provisions including an accreditation exemption for pharmacies selling Medicare Part B Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decided to opt for a smaller package that stripped out all the health care provisions. 

For nearly 23,000 independent community pharmacies facing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' accreditation enforcement deadline of March 1, this would mean a substantial number of seniors could lose access to medical supplies like diabetes testing strips at their trusted pharmacy provider. In response, Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, executive vice president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), today sent the following letter to Sen. Reid expressing the concerns of these trusted, clinically trained health care providers and the need for finding a legislative solution to address this matter in a timely fashion: 

February 17, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510-6200
Subject: Passage of Pharmacy DME Accreditation Exemption by March 1st.
Dear Leader Reid: 

On behalf of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the 23,000 independent pharmacies whose interests we represent, we appreciate your strong support for community pharmacy as demonstrated through the inclusion of key pharmacy-supported provisions in the Senate-passed Health Care Reform bill. We now face a critical juncture for one of those issues and ask that you pass a permanent pharmacy DME accreditation exemption by March 1. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is starting to revoke the billing numbers for pharmacies who have not met the DME accreditation requirements. You have recognized that these burdensome requirements mean that many pharmacies will not be able to provide these important products to Medicare beneficiaries. CMS has unfairly targeted pharmacies for meeting these requirements, while exempting 17 other similarly state-regulated health care professionals. 

Under a proposed Senate Finance Committee compromise which we support, pharmacies would be exempt from DME accreditation requirements until January 2011. After that time, pharmacies that have billed Medicare for more than 24 months and that have Medicare DME billings that are 5% or less than their total prescription sales would be eligible for an exemption. 

Exempting pharmacies that meet these criteria will make these products more accessible to Medicare beneficiaries, especially those in rural areas. This approach also strikes an important balance of providing patients with the health care products they need, while protecting the integrity of the Medicare program. We thank you again for your support of community pharmacy and look forward to working with you on moving this important legislation forward. 

Sincerely, 

Bruce T. Roberts, R.Ph.
Executive Vice President & CEO
cc: The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader
The Honorable Max Baucus, Chairman, Committee on Finance
The Honorable Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member, Committee on Finance


The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

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