The National Community Pharmacists Association has devised a pair of new advertisements that spotlight how community pharmacists can help lower federal health care costs.

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NCPA ads depict community Rx as cost saver

October 18th, 2011
Focusing on the value of pharmacists as trusted advisers, one NCPA ad asks, "What happens when her pharmacist can't help manage her diabetes?"

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association has devised a pair of new advertisements that spotlight how community pharmacists can help lower federal health care costs.

NCPA said Monday that the two new ads come as the congressional "super committee" nears budgetary decisions on ways to reduce the federal deficit.

The first ad focuses on overall deficit reduction and offers policymakers five ways to lower spending by leveraging community pharmacists.

Recommendations include using community pharmacists to promote the utilization of low-cost generic drugs in Medicare Part D, Medicaid and Tricare; empowering pharmacists to counsel patients face-to-face on proper medication use, which can reduce an estimated $290 billion in avoidable health care spending; collect billions of dollars in drug manufacturer rebates retained by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in Medicare, Medicaid and FEHBP; eliminate waste in mail-order pharmacy, namely "mandatory mail" plans; and allow community pharmacists to continue providing advice and testing supplies to keep Medicare diabetes patients with healthy.

NCPA's other ad shows policymakers several ways that pharmacists can help lower health care costs.

NCPA's second ad highlights the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act (H.R. 1936), introduced by Reps. Aaron Schock (R., Ill.) and Peter Welch (D., Vt.). The bipartisan bill would cut the deficit and permanently exempt independent pharmacies (defined as 10 or fewer pharmacies under common ownership) from competitive bidding prices in the Medicare Part B program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS).

The ad points out how community pharmacists play a key role in helping diabetes patients by providing advice, education and testing supplies to manage the disease. NCPA said a recent survey of over 800 community pharmacists found that 84% would be forced to stop providing access to diabetes testing supplies if they had to competitively bid or accept prices set by that process.

NCPA also has developed an analysis of the many cutbacks that community pharmacies have already had to digest in recent years. For example, the analysis reveals that pharmacies have seen prescription drug reimbursement slashed by more than $15 billion. What's more, between 2005 and 2010, the number of independent pharmacies operating at an overall financial loss has climbed by 64% and now accounts for 23% of that pharmacy trade class.

NCPA first offered its recommendations in a Sept. 7 letter to "super committee" members.

"Community pharmacists can help reduce health care expenses by maximizing the appropriate utilization of lower-cost generic drugs and through face-to-face, expert counseling on the proper use of medications as prescribed for patients," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "Small-business community pharmacies are ready and willing to work constructively with policymakers to address rising medical costs while maintaining patients' access to the cost-cutting services of local pharmacists."