ALEXANDRIA, Va. Several pharmacy groups on Thursday lauded the introduction of legislation by Reps. Marion Berry, D-Ark., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., to stop regulations that could limit Medicare beneficiaries’ access to durable medical equipment from neighborhood pharmacies.
“As the most accessible healthcare providers, pharmacies and pharmacists play a crucial role in the management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, and are an essential provider of diabetic supplies and Medicare Part B medications,” stated Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. “We appreciate the efforts of Reps. Berry and Moran to help prevent the implementation of regulations that may threaten patients’ access to the crucial supplies and equipment to manage their diseases effectively.”
The term “durable medical equipment” includes product categories as diverse as wheelchairs and oxygen tanks, but also includes diabetes equipment and the related supplies—blood-testing strips and blood glucose monitors.
The proposed legislation would exempt pharmacy suppliers from accreditation requirements for the Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies program by including pharmacists and pharmacies in the list of health care providers that CMS has already exempt from meeting the quality standards for DMEPOS accreditation.
According to the pharmacy groups, there are significant costs associated with the accreditation process that can create significant financial barriers for pharmacies and pharmacists that are already state-licensed. To date, the regional Ohio drug store chain Discount Drug Mart is one of the few pharmacies to go through the accreditation process.
For those pharmacy operations that decide not to bear those costs, the accreditation process poses a threat to patients’ access to DME supplies and counseling from their pharmacist.
The pharmacy advocate groups supporting the legislation include: The American Pharmacists Association; Food Marketing Institute; National Association of Chain Drug Stores; National Community Pharmacists Association; and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations.