Industry sympathizes with NCPA

Thursday, August 31, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - While consultants sympathize with the National Community Pharmacists Association's position that accreditation requirements place undue burdens on pharmacists, they say it's still going to happen.
"I understand what they are saying because it is going to be a challenge for small retail pharmacies," said Tom Cesar, president of Raleigh, N.C.-based ACHC. "But how about your small DMEs in rural America?"
Cesar suggested giving small pharmacies more time to come into compliance as a way to ease the burden.
Bob Weir, an industry consultant based in Warner Springs, Calif., and a contracted inspector for ACHC, expressed concern that many pharmacists who offer DME are unaware of the need for accreditation or don't understand the process. That's an opinion underscored by a recent seminar on accreditation.
A recent NCPA survey showed that only about 31% of respondents planned to participate in NCB. Mary Nicholas, executive director of Waterloo, Iowa-based HQAA, estimates a third of her clients are pharmacies.
"Some pharmacies only have a minimal line of HME," said Nicholas. "They ask, 'Do I have to get accredited because I have test strips?' Yes, they do."
Nicholas worries many small pharmacies may discontinue products rather than seek HME accreditation, leading to access problems for patients, a concern echoed by Sandra Canally, president of Ambler, Pa.-based The Compliance Team.
"The neighborhood pharmacy is filling the need of patients in the community," said Canally. "But accreditation can only benefit both them and the people they serve."
The NCPA is working to exempt pharmacies from HME accreditation, said NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Bruce Roberts, but Cesar doubts it will be successful.
"With Medicare, they want to raise the bar through accreditation," said Cesar. "I personally don't see an exclusion."
With NCB slated to begin in 2007, pharmacies need to make some hard choices, said Weir.
"The most important thing now is they understand what's going to be required of them so they can make a business decision whether they're going to go through the process or just get out of it," said Weir.