PHARMACY

NACDS challenges report on DME rules

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Hitting back against what it argues is inadequate or biased coverage of a health care issue of concern to its members, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores today took the Wall Street Journal to task for a report on federal regulations for providers of durable medical equipment and supplies for Medicare beneficiaries.

The organization swung into action via its NACDS Rapid Response program in response to a recent Wall Street Journal Health Blog post. The posted article, NACDS president and chief executive Steven Anderson asserted today, correctly cited the need to combat Medicare fraud but ignored the harmful impact the new DME regulations would have on pharmacies.

Through the Department of Health & Human Services, the Bush Administration pushed through new rules established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, for the sale of DME in retail outlets. Under the new regulations, retailers wishing to participate in the market for durable medical equipment will be required to gain accreditation to sell home health and other health supplies, and to bid in competition with other DME providers to obtain contracts to sell those products. The so-called Competitive Acquisition Program was originally launched in 10 markets as a demonstration project, with delayed plans for a phased national rollout.

NACDS and other pharmacy groups were instrumental in securing that delay through legislation to postpone and reform Medicare’s competitive bidding program for DME. The group reports it is now “engaged with Congress and CMS to ensure that policies intended to safeguard the Medicare program are implemented in a manner that minimizes disruption of care.”

Responding to the WSJ article, Anderson called attention to the importance of preserving patient access to medical equipment and supplies, such as diabetes testing products.  The accreditation requirement and the recently issued rule requiring that pharmacy retailers be bonded to retain Medicare enrollment, said Anderson, “are unnecessary regulations imposed on state-licensed pharmacies that could limit patients’ ability to manage their diseases.

“While it is important to stop fraudulent claims and fly-by-night operations, CMS’ new regulations will make it much harder—even prohibitive—for legitimate suppliers to provide DME for patients,” added NACDS’ top executive. “Pharmacies play a crucial role in the management of diabetes and are an essential provider of diabetic supplies and Medicare Part B medications. These regulations will threaten patients’ access to the crucial supplies and equipment to manage their diseases effectively.”

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PHARMACY

Researchers test administering medication using nanotechnology, gold

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Researchers have developed a way to use tiny particles of gold to control the administration of drugs for diseases such as cancer, according to a study published in the journal ACS Nano.

The researchers, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created a device that shines infrared light on particles of gold coated with medicine.

The particles vary in size, causing them to melt at different rates depending on the intensity of the light.

The researchers said the device would allow medicine to target specific areas of the body at specific rates, thus minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

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N.J. tests new law requiring vaccinations for school-age children

BY Alaric DeArment

TRENTON, N.J. New Jersey will find out this week if its new law requiring flu vaccinations for schoolchildren has worked, according to published reports.

The state is the first in the country to require schoolchildren to receive flu vaccinations, between the ages of 6 months and 5 years. It required the children to receive the vaccinations by Dec. 31. Children who have not been vaccinated will not be allowed to attend school.

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