Accreditation requirements still a hurdle for pharmacy

Accreditation and surety bond requirements do not appear to be the potential tripping stones to sales of diabetes supplies through retail pharmacies any longer, according to industry executives.

Currently, retail pharmacies in the business of selling diabetes supplies to Medicare recipients are supposed to have both an accreditation in the sale of durable medical equipment, as well as satisfy a surety bond requirement.

The surety bond requirement went into effect last fall; and the accreditation requirement deadline was extended to Jan. 1. However, it appears that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may be exercising enforcement discretion around accreditation requirements, as an exemption for that accreditation is still part of the healthcare reform legislation being debated in Congress.

CMS already has indicated its willingness to work with the industry, as the agency still is accepting surety bonds after the Oct. 1 deadline, according to industry executives. And the surety bond requirement no longer is really restrictive, noted Bill Popomaronis, VP long-term and home healthcare pharmacy for the National Community Pharmacists Association, especially as the CMS-projected annual per-store cost of that bond fell from an anticipated $1,500 to approximately $250. “Most pharmacies mainly want to keep their [Medicare] Part B billing number to provide diabetes testing and complementary supplies,” Popomaronis said.

With regard to accreditation requirements, which still represent a fiscal hurdle for many pharmacy operators, that measure still enjoys plenty of bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, noted John Norton, NCPA association director of public relations. And for good reason, he noted—pharmacists have not been associated with Medicare fraud and already are regulated by state pharmacy boards.

And many pharmacies already are accredited through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy DMEPOS accreditation program, including national chains CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.

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