NEW YORK What do diabetes supplies for retail pharmacy Medicare patients, the Pittsburgh Steelers' chance of defending their Super Bowl title and Old Father Time 2009 all have in common? They all could be no more not too long after Dick Clark counts down to the New Year for the 38th time.
And of those three, losing diabetes supplies for retail pharmacy Medicare patients will certainly be the most devastating. (Unless you live in Steel Town. And you don’t have diabetes.)
Because even though the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacy Associations’ have made numerous appeals to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to include pharmacists along with the host of other healthcare professionals already excluded from accreditation requirements so that they can bill against Medicare Part B, those appeals have largely fell on deaf ears. It was Congress that extended an initial deadline this fall through to Jan. 1, and they’ve got their hands busy with overall health reform.
If CMS doesn’t extend the deadline, it will certainly put a crimp in the business of many community pharmacies. Both Medicare Parts D and B could account for as much as 50% of an independents’ business, NCPA executives told Drug Store News in October. And out of more than 20,000 independent pharmacies, slightly less than half had either become accredited or was in the process of gaining accreditation as of mid-October.
But there’s also the potential impact to patients with diabetes, or other needs billed under Medicare Part B. It’s a step toward impeding access to those Medicare Part B needs by potentially taking their community pharmacist out of the picture.
And it may be a meaningless loss of business/patient access — exempting pharmacists from accreditation requirements is one of the pieces of health-reform legislation under debate.
Indeed, in October 54 Members of Congress also wrote a letter to Acting CMS Administrator Charlene Frizzera, requesting an immediatedelay, then, of the DME accreditation and $50,000 surety bond requirements for community pharmacies. The letter was led by Reps. Space, Marion Berry (D-Ark.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
It again may be time for pharmacy’s advocates to reach out on behalf of pharmacists and their diabetes patients.