NCB worries pharmacy association

Sunday, July 23, 2006

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Medicare's national competitive bidding proposal would create huge administrative burdens for pharmacists, and that's not good for pharmacies, beneficiaries or Medicare, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) stated last week.

Of major concern to NCPA: The requirement that providers must be accredited to participate in NCB.

"Pharmacists are already highly educated, licensed by the state and uniquely qualified to serve as the medication and medical device expert for their patients," said NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Bruce Roberts. "To require an additional level of accreditation to sell durable medication such as diabetes testing strips is unnecessarily burdensome and unfairly stacks the deck against family pharmacies."

CMS estimates that 90% of Medicare Part B suppliers--of which pharmacies comprise the biggest percentage--will participate in NCB.
However, a recent NCPA survey showed that only 31% of community pharmacies plan to participate when NCB kicks off in 10 cities in 2007.

Most cited concerns about the financial requirements and administrative burdens of the bidding process and accreditation. The initial accreditation is anticipated to take 70 hours to complete at an estimated cost of $7,000 to $17,000.

If pharmacists opt out of the program because of the administrative burdens, that could affect beneficiary access to DME, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies, as well as Part B medications, immunizations, therapeutic shoes and nebulizers, said the NCPA.

"The long-term effects will be a decrease in beneficiaries' access to their local community pharmacy," said Roberts.