Infusion Therapy

Friday, February 28, 2003

BOSTON - Massachusetts home infusion providers absorbed a body blow in January when the state added an additional $1.30 tax onto each prescription.

The tax - the state’s calling it an assessment - applies to all retail pharmacies, which home infusion providers have been lumped in with because regulators don’t understand what they do, said Bob Simmons, owner of Boston Home Infusion.

“We are like a hospital without walls,” Simmons said. “We do everything a hospital does yet the inpatient hospitals are not being affected.

Infusion providers and the New England Medical Equipment Dealers association (NEMED) are seeking an exemption from the new tax. NEMED has approached the state Board of Pharmacy about reclassifying home infusion providers, and the board’s “willing to discuss the process,” said Karyn Estrella, NEMED executive director.

Infusion providers have been classified as retail pharmacies because they employ a pharmacists and regulators didn’t know how else to classify them but “it’s home care - not retail pharmacy,” Estrella said.

The first payment of the tax will be due May 1 and be retroactive to Jan. 1. The tax applies to all prescriptions that are not Medicare or Medicaid and the state’s reasons for applying it are simple: Massachusetts will receive $36 million in matching federal funds.

That’s little consolidation for home infusion providers.

“The most frustrating part is that they are saying this is a fee to help the Massachusetts health program,” Simmons said. “Yet for the past two and a half years myself and others have had meetings with Massachusetts health (officials) to help them develop new methods of streamlining their operations and nothing has happened.” HME