The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association highlighted the role of pharmacy in testimony for a Senate hearing on reform of health care entitlements.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores, NACDS, National Community Pharmacists Association, NCPA, health care entitlements, entitlement reform, health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Senate Finance Committee, Health Care Entitlements: The Road Forward, community pharmacists, pharmacy, health care delivery, medication adherence, health care costs, Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse, MTM, generic drug utilization, Medicare Part D, Medicare Part B, prescription drug, B. Douglas Hoey, Kay Hagan, medication therapy management, Medicaid reimbursement, health entitlement programs, Tom Carper, Tom Coburn, Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayers' Dollars Act, Medicare and Medicaid FAST Act

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Pharmacy sounds off on health entitlement reform

June 24th, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association highlighted the role of pharmacy in testimony for a Senate hearing on reform of health care entitlements.

NACDS and NCPA submitted statements Thursday for a Senate Finance Committee hearing titled "Health Care Entitlements: The Road Forward," which examined entitlement reform and the spiraling costs of Medicare and Medicaid amid concerns about the growing federal deficit.

Both groups noted that pharmacies are uniquely positioned in the nation's health care delivery system to help reduce wasteful spending, introduce more cost savings and improve patient care.

"NACDS recognizes the importance of entitlement reform and appreciates the opportunity to share our views on how our industry can help control future cost growth in Medicare and Medicaid. Pharmacies are the face of neighborhood health care and are a highly valued and trusted source of care for millions of Americans," NACDS said in its statement.

"Community pharmacists play a critical role in increasing medication adherence, which can lead to improved health outcomes and reducing overall health care costs to the Medicare and Medicaid programs," the association explained. "NACDS and its member companies look forward to continuing the partnership with Congress, state policymakers, and other stakeholders to create cost-effective and efficient ways to continue providing access to quality health care services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries"

In their testimony, NACDS and NCPA each gave their own lists of recommendations to the Senate committee. Suggestions included the following :

• Step up generic drug utilization to reduce costs.
• Boost the medication therapy management (MTM) benefit in Medicare Part D and pass the MTM Empowerment Act of 2011 (S. 274), introduced by Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.).
• Preserve patient access to the Medicare Part B for purchases of diabetes supplies and maintain pharmacy's exemption from the durable medical equipment (DME) competitive bidding program.
• Expand vaccine coverage in Medicare Part D so more patients can get immunizations from retail pharmacies.
• Allow the electronic storage of Medicare Part D prescriptions to foster adoption of health information technology (HIT).
• Uphold the average manufacturer price (AMP) methodology in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) for determining Medicaid reimbursement.
• Shift the focus in the government's fight against Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse from a policy of costly administrative regulations for pharmacies to capturing and punishing those perpetuating the fraud and abuse.
• Increase the transparency of the branded prescription drug manufacturer rebates retained by pharmacy benefit managers, which would allow the federal government to recoup billions of dollars.
• Restrict the mandated or incentivized use of mail-order pharmacies that can lead to excess supplies of prescription drugs, namely more expensive brand-name medications.

"Everyone is justifiably concerned with the ballooning costs of Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health programs," B. Douglas Hoey, NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer, stated in the association's Senate testimony.  "NCPA fully supports the Senate Finance Committee's efforts to find meaningful solutions for eliminating waste and generating more savings, without undermining patient care. Community pharmacists stand ready to help achieve that goal, which is more likely if their clinical expertise and patient-focused approach are properly incorporated."

Hoey added, "Our testimony calls for more choice and pharmacy competition, increased access to cost-saving pharmacist counseling and reforms the practices of major PBMs that have triggered consistent claims of fraud and deceptive conduct. By passing the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act, and the Medicare Diabetes Access to Care Act, Congress can bend the cost curve downward without sacrificing care for millions of Americans."

Earlier this week, NCPA applauded Sens. Tom Carper (D., Del.) and Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) for their introduction of the Medicare and Medicaid Fighting Fraud and Abuse to Save Taxpayers' Dollars Act, also known as the Medicare and Medicaid FAST Act, which aims to stop waste, fraud and abuse in the health entitlement programs.

Hoey said in a statement on the legislation, "Every dollar that is lost to fraudsters or misspent on bloated administrative expenses increases costs for everyone, jeopardizes patients' access to pharmacists and other providers, and creates artificial pressure on provider reimbursements, which already don't necessarily cover the cost of providing care."