NCPA Commends Health Care Provisions in New Senate 'Jobs' Bill

Alexandria, Va. - March 02, 2010

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today expressed strong support for additional Medicaid funding and a limited pharmacy exemption from onerous Medicare regulations—two provisions that are part of a new economic stimulus proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). 

NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, issued the following statement in response to the bill: 

"This legislation will help to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid patients can continue relying on their community pharmacist to meet their health needs in a cost-effective manner. These provisions benefit patients and their community pharmacies. We appreciate their inclusion in what will be priority legislation. 

"The bill would extend for six months the 2009 stimulus bill's enhanced federal 'match' in the Medicaid program. During these hard economic times, states continue to struggle to pay their share for Medicaid services both now and as they plan for next year. Independent community pharmacies are the backbone of the Medicaid drug benefit, serving a higher rate of the program's patients than other pharmacies. This funding will allow local pharmacists to meet important health needs, rather than sending patients to costlier emergency rooms. Wesupported its inclusion in President Obama's 2011 budget and we support it now. 

"The legislation would also preserve seniors' access to essential health products and end a long and exhaustive ordeal for community pharmacists struggling with Medicare's durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DME) accreditation requirement. Pharmacies that have been providing DME, such as diabetes testing supplies, for at least 24 months and at 5% or less of their overall prescription sales would be exempted. Pharmacists are already state-licensed, and 17 other types of state-regulated health care providers have been exempted from this regulation. This provision would allow many local pharmacies to stay in the Medicare DME program while sparing accredited pharmacies from repeating this costly, time-consuming process every three years. We particularly appreciate the work of Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) on this issue." 

NCPA wrote to Sen. Reid on Feb. 17, 2010 to push for enactment of a pharmacy exemption from the Medicare DME accreditation requirement. 

The new legislation would also extend small business loan guarantees that were part of the 2009 stimulus; continue so-called COBRA health insurance premiums; and allow 15-year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold and retail improvements. 

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

Ask Your Family Pharmacist TM