The Senate has made headway on enhanced federal funding for state Medicaid programs and passed key legislation on safe disposal of unused drugs, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

NACDS, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, FMAP, federal medical assistance percentage, Medicaid, funding for state Medicaid programs, disposal of unused drugs, Senate, cloture, FMAP extension, Steve Anderson, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, S. 3397, drug disposal legislation, Amy Klobuchar, take back program, Bart Stupak, Safe Drug Disposal Act of 2010, H.R. 5809, Russell Redman

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NACDS notes Senate progress on FMAP, drug disposal bill

August 5th, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Senate has made headway on enhanced federal funding for state Medicaid programs and passed key legislation on safe disposal of unused drugs, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

NACDS said the pharmacy industry's efforts on Capitol Hill to push through a six-month extension of the increased federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), which provides funding for state Medicaid and other health programs, cleared a procedural hurdle with a close vote in the Senate on Wednesday.

In a 61-38 vote, the Senate invoked cloture — concluding debate and moving forward with consideration — on a funding measure that includes the FMAP extension, NACDS reported, noting that the tally just met the 60 votes required for cloture. The enhanced FMAP, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2008, is scheduled to expire at the end of 2010 without congressional action.

"The budget situation in the states is dire at best, and this extension of the FMAP provision is necessary to help prevent further cuts to pharmacy patient care," NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said in a statement. "Anything that hinders pharmacy access is counterproductive, because when patients do not take their medications correctly health suffers and long-term health care costs rise."

NACDS noted that its engagement in the FMAP issue at the federal level complements its state government affairs work, in tandem with state pharmacy and retail associations and national association partners. In June, NACDS and four other pharmacy groups — the American Pharmacists Association, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and Food Marketing Institute — sent a letter to Senate leaders to express the urgency to act on the FMAP extension.

Following Wednesday's cloture vote, the Senate will need to vote on the funding bill, and the House and Senate will need to pass it in final form before it can be presented to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

Also this week, the Senate on Tuesday passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (S. 3397), which NACDS hailed as "a victory for a pro-consumer, pro-law-enforcement, pro-environment and pro-pharmacy approach to the issue."

NACDS noted that the drug disposal legislation, authored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), reflects an approach advocated by the association in which pharmacies and other entities will be able to work with consumers and law enforcement to safely dispose of unused drugs, rather than imposing a requirement that they establish a drug disposal program, such as a "take back" program.

"NACDS commends Sen. Klobuchar and the Senate Judiciary Committee for moving forward in a way that will help consumers dispose of their unused medications, without creating unintended consequences that jeopardize health and safety," Anderson commented.

That approach also has been advocated by NACDS in the House of Representatives. The association said Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) has sponsored an amendment to the Safe Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (H.R. 5809), advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week, that would prevent regulations requiring a drug disposal program.

"NACDS supports efforts to find a safe and effective means for consumers to dispose of their unused medications, including controlled substances," Anderson stated. "We believe these programs must be structured to protect public health and safety and preserve the integrity of the drug distribution supply chain."

Under a take back program, pharmacies would accept previously dispensed prescription drugs, a situation that NACDS noted would raise health and safety concerns because at that point the medications have left the secure drug distribution system and could be contaminated.