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NACDS weighs in on House health bill
November 9th, 2009
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) for supporting community pharmacy’s concerns in the health care reform bill that was expected to be passed by the House earlier this month.
“Millions of Americans rely on their local pharmacy every day for prescription drugs and pharmacy services,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a letter to Pelosi. “We believe that any successful health care reform proposal must protect the pharmacist/patient relationship and maintain access to community-based health care providers, in addition to improving quality and reducing costs.”
The association’s letter states that it appreciates Pelosi’s efforts to include such pro-pharmacy provisions in the Affordable Health Care for America Act as adequate reimbursement for Medicaid prescriptions filled with generics and Medicare beneficiaries’ continued access to durable medical equipment.
However, the letter expresses NACDS’ concerns about some provisions in the bill that it feels could hamper patient access to pharmacy services and urges Congress to address those issues before the final legislation is approved.
Among the concerns Anderson cites in the letter are the need for a stronger provision to ensure that medication therapy management services play a central role in the reformed health care system and the need to provide pharmacies with a fair dispensing fee, especially in the public health plan option included in the bill.
The House plan, Anderson says, allows the Department of Health and Human Services secretary to negotiate pharmacy reimbursement rates for prescription drugs covered by the proposed public plan.
NACDS is worried that this could lead to insufficient national or regional reimbursement rates, discourage pharmacies from participating in the public option and compromise patient access to medication and pharmacy services.
“There are two components of pharmacy reimbursement — product reimbursement and a dispensing fee,” the NACDS letter notes. “In order to create a robust pharmacy network for public plan beneficiaries, fair and accurate pharmacy reimbursement for product cost as well as cost to dispense is critical.”