Pharmacy industry to push for second extension

Saturday, December 12, 2009

YARMOUTH, Maine - The accreditation extension for pharmacies runs out this month, but the National Community Pharmacists Association is working to push the deadline back again.

"We'd like to get another extension so we can allow some of the pharmacies that are working hard to get accredited be accredited," said Bill Popomaronis, NCPA's vice president of long term and home health care.

In October, both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted to extend the deadline for community pharmacists from Sept. 30 to Dec. 31.

One pharmacy that benefited from the original extension: Anthony, Kan.-based Irwin Potter Drug, which became accredited Nov. 6.

"The extension did allow us some breathing space, given that it allowed us to continue billing in lieu of being surveyed," said Simon Sokerka, inventory control specialist. "I'm not sure if being accredited will benefit us or not. It's something that we can boast about but, if the pharmacy exemption becomes permanent, it could become something that was costly both monetarily and in time spent to no avail."

Another extension would allow the NCPA and other stakeholders to lobby for provisions included in both the House and Senate healthcare reform packages that would permanently exempt pharmacies doing limited amounts of DME.

Also last week, the word on the street was that Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, plans to introduce an amendment that would exempt pharmacies from Medicare's surety bond requirement.

"Like the 14 other types of medical professionals that Medicare exempted from the surety bond requirement, pharmacists are licensed and regulated by the states," said Bruce Roberts, NCPA's vice president and CEO, in a statement. "Requiring surety bonds is duplicative and may lead to loss of patient access to valuable healthcare services, such as diabetes testing supplies, canes and crutches."