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NCPA urges extension of DMEPOS accreditation deadline

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association has sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) asking the agency to delay the accreditation deadline for Medicare Part B durable medical equipment, orthotics, prosthetics and supplies (DMEPOS) or to suspend enforcement.

In October, Congress passed legislation extending the accreditation deadline to January 1, 2010. The bill, signed into law by President Obama, also granted CMS the authority to further delay the deadline.

However, with the January 1 deadline imminent and Congress still debating health care reform legislation, NCPA is calling on CMS to act immediately to avoid jeopardizing Medicare recipients’ access to important health-related items, such as diabetes testing supplies.

"NCPA urges the agency to use its discretionary authority to extend the accreditation date and avoid revoking pharmacy billing numbers of unaccredited pharmacies," the association wrote in the letter, sent to CMS acting administrator Charlene Frizzera. "This will prevent unnecessary disruption and reduction in patient access to these critical DME supplies until such time as Congress acts on this issue."

NCPA pointed out that 17 other medical providers are already exempted from the costly regulation and that there is bipartisan support for exempting pharmacists as part of health care reform.

"CMS has the power and should use it to prevent a sudden disruption of seniors’ ability to continue purchasing medical supplies at their nearby community pharmacy," NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer Bruce Roberts said in a statement. "Congress has shown a willingness to fix the problem of pharmacists not being exempted from this onerous, expensive and redundant requirement, but that legislative solution will not occur in time. By exercising discretion, CMS will follow one of the basic principles of medicine and government — first, do no harm."

Roberts noted that it doesn’t make sense to penalize patients whose pharmacists are not accredited when they might soon be exempted from the regulation. "Why put CMS employees through the exercise of revoking pharmacy billing numbers only to re-enroll them when Congress enacts a pharmacy exemption?" he commented.


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