CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) had again changed the response date for their proposed re-classification of pharmacy residency programs to continuing education programs, thus not eligible for Medicare "pass-through" dollars. On Monday, the date for response was moved back to the original date, July 8, 2003. CMS justifies this policy change because not all pharmacists that work in hospitals are required to complete a residency program. CMS further argues that residency programs are "continuing education," comparable to seminars and workshops, since they do not lead to "specific certification in a specialty." Continuing education programs are treated as normal operating costs included in the prospective payment rate.
This change will go into effect on October 1, 2003 UNLESS YOU ACT by July 8. Residency preceptors, current, future and past pharmacy residents, administrators, physicians and patients should write CMS concerning the value of pharmacy residencies and their impact on direct patient care. For more information and a complete description of the issues, please go to the ASHP Residency and Accreditation Information webpage, http://ashp.org/rtp/index.cfm?cfid=20280037&CFToken=7632685 or directly to the information page describing the CMS action and what you can do: http://ashp.org/rtp/writecms.cfm?cfid=20280037&CFToken=7632685.