Rx: Senate joins House in extending accreditation deadline

Sunday, October 11, 2009

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted last week to extend the accreditation deadline for pharmacists to Dec. 31, 2009.

The House of Representatives passed a similar measure Sept. 30.

"For pharmacies that are in the accreditation process but were not able to complete it by the Oct. 1 deadline or are waiting for their survey, this gives them the opportunity to get accredited," said Bill

Popomaronis, vice president of long term and home health care pharmacy services for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).

The Senate bill was "hotlined" because it was considered non-controversial, according to John Norton, NCPA spokesman.

Lawmakers are considering exempting pharmacies from the accreditation requirement altogether. They have included provisions that would do that in both House and Senate healthcare reform bills. The extension buys time for the provisions to work their way through the system and become law.

"There's a growing bipartisan consensus that an exemption is something that Congress is likely to pursue," Norton said. "We see a certain amount of support for it and are confident it will stay in (healthcare reform legislation)."

Pharmacists still need to have surety bonds, but CMS will instruct the National Supplier Clearinghouse (NSC) to allow a short grace period--days, not weeks--for them to obtain the bonds, according to the NCPA. The deadline for obtaining surety bonds was Oct. 2.

Additionally, CMS has stated that the NSC will only process the surety bond portion of the 855S enrollment forms from pharmacies that have voluntarily revoked their Medicare Part B billing numbers or "stepped down" (indicating that they will provide only Part B drugs, not DMEPOS).

But that's still theory at this point, said Simon Sokerka, with Anthony, Kan.-based Irwin Potter Drug.

"I just spoke to them (today) and, though they were familiar with what I was talking about, they still have not received official word to stop processing the submittals," he said.