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Updates: Obamacare Deadline Extended, Drug Compounders Restricted

By November 10, 2012

Pharmacists can miss a lot of news while doing their jobs.While you were filling prescriptions, counseling patients, stocking shelves and dealing with insurers ...

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services extended the first major Obamacare health insurance mandate deadline. As reported yesterday, the reelection of President Obama ensured implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would continue. State governors originally had until Nov. 16, 2012, to notify federal officials whether their own state health commissioners would create and operate web-based health insurance exchanges required under the law to allow individuals needing to purchase their own coverage to find plans that meet their needs and budgets.

A Nov. 9 letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the governors moved that drop-dead date to Dec. 14, while still emphasizing the need to make intentions known by next Friday, and then to be able to show by Jan. 1 that a state-based exchange would be operable by October 2013.

You can read the full letter online. You can also get some insight on what Obamacare means for community pharmacy and health-system pharmacy by clicking those terms.

The contaminated compounded drugs crisis produced more fallout. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who worked at the New England Compounding Center since the beginning of 2012 have been ordered not to do any compounding. The practitioners have been allowed to keep their licenses and registrations, but they must excuse themselves from filling any prescription orders that require admixing or customizing dosages.

Also, discovery of evidence that clients' complaints about the sterility and quality of compounded medications from NECC clients were received over the summer but not acted upon before the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak occurred prompted the immediate firing of the director of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy. In a statement announcing the decision, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Interim Commissioner Dr. Lauren Smith said, "I find the actions of NECC reprehensible. ... But I also expect the staff charged with oversight to perform their duties to the highest standards. That failed to happen here."

Electronic health records industry leader Allscripts explored options to sell itself. EHRs have been a significant component of every major health care reform going back to at least OBRA '90. Now, the Obamacare law all but mandates that hospitals and pharmacies participating in Medicare and Medicaid transition to electronic record keeping. For now, Allscripts has found no suitors, but what a blockbuster merger or takeover in the burgeoning field of EHRs could mean for end users of the technologies -- that'd be you -- bears watching.

Photo by Hikaru Iwasaki, used courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

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