Another bill seeks to exempt pharmacies

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WASHINGTON – First it was the accreditation requirement; now it’s the surety bond requirement.

U.S. Reps. Zack Space, D-Ohio, and Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., introduced a bill this week that seeks to exempt pharmacies from having to obtain $50,000 surety bonds if they want to continue doing business with Medicare. The requirement goes into effect in May for new providers and October for existing providers.

“(The bill) removes the onerous surety bond costs for pharmacists, which when added to the several thousand dollar costs mandated by the accreditation requirements, are out of proportion with the small percentage that DMEPOS represents for independent community pharmacies’ overall revenue,” stated Bruce Roberts, executive vice president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

H.R. 1970, the Preserve Patients Access to Reputable DMEPOS Providers Act of 2009, joins bills in the House of Representatives and Senate that seek to exempt pharmacies from having to meet a September accreditation deadline.

The NCPA points out that if pharmacies have to meet the surety bond and accreditation requirements, some may choose to drop durable medical equipment like diabetes testing strips. That will cause access problems, especially for patients in rural areas.

Additionally, the NCPA points out that 14 other similarly licensed medical providers have already been exempted from the surety bond requirement.