The Medicare Improvements for Patients and providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) gave the authority to exempt certain health professionals from the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) accreditation requirements. Currently, community pharmacists are the only licensed medical professionals that must meet new CMS accreditation requirements as Medicare suppliers of DMEPOS. Because of this unfair requirement, Congressman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and I introduced H.R. 616 to add pharmacists and pharmacies to the list of medical professionals such as physicians, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, orthotists, prosthetists, and opticians, who have already been conditionally exempted from this requirement by CMS.

In rural areas, including many small towns across Arkansas, community pharmacists are often the only medical professionals available who can supply vital durable medical equipment like diabetic testing supplies and wheelchairs to their patients. The current law threatens the ability of patients to get the supplies and care they need to stay healthy.

Our country’s healthcare system is broken. Individuals who are sick should never be denied care because of circumstances like ability to pay or type of insurance. This bill will not solve our healthcare crisis, but it is one step in the right direction that will help a group of people get the supplies and care they would not be able to receive without their local community pharmacist.

Congressman Marion Berry is the only former pharmacist currently serving in Congress.