CMS still processing pharmacy accreditation apps

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WASHINGTON – CMS will continue to process accreditation applications for pharmacies after the Dec. 31, 2009 deadline, the agency stated in a bulletin last week.

That means it's also likely that CMS will not immediately revoke billing privileges for pharmacies whose applications have not yet been processed, say stakeholders.

"We’re hopeful that the agency will not take immediate action against pharmacies that are not accredited by Jan. 1, 2010," said Kevin Schweers, spokesman for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). "Given the lack of association of pharmacists with suspected DMEPOS fraud, there is little to be gained by CMS staff devoting resources to revoking the DMEPOS billing rights of pharmacies."

Congress in October agreed to give pharmacists a 90-day extension to meet the accreditation requirement. The NCPA is working to get another extension or an exemption when lawmakers return to work this month.

There are provisions in both the Senate and House healthcare reform bills that would exempt certain pharmacies from the requirement.

"There is bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for a conditional pharmacy exemption from these requirements as part of pending health reform legislation,” Schweers said.

"Pharmacists are already state-regulated; the Medicare accreditation requirement is redundant and unnecessary, as well as expensive."

The NCPA has long argued that pharmacists should be included on CMS's list of exempted several medical professionals like physicians, nurse practitioners, speech pathologists, social workers and dieticians. Still, the association continues to recommend that pharmacies get accredited and obtain surety bonds.