Twin bills take aim at bonds

Sunday, May 31, 2009

WASHINGTON--Community pharmacists continue to press for recognition as healthcare professionals, through a pair of bills seeking to exempt them from Medicare’s surety bond requirement.

In April, U.S. Reps. Zack Space, D-Ohio, and Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., introduced H.R. 1970, the Preserve Patients Access to Reputable DMEPOS Providers Act of 2009. In May, Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced a Senate companion bill.

Both bills would exempt pharmacists from having to obtain the $50,000 bonds. New providers had to obtain bonds by May 4; existing providers by October 2. Certain professionals are exempt from the requirement, including physicians, orthotiststs and prosthetists and dieticians.

“We are asking to be treated like every other state licensed healthcare professional,” said John Coster, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).