ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores underscored its commitment to improving the quality and affordability of the nation’s healthcare system and expressed concern about potential consequences of restricted pharmacy networks with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange plans in a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The committee held a hearing Friday titled, “Premiums, Provider Networks and the Health Care Law.”
“Preferred networks in the pharmacy sector may interfere with patient access to quality care. The use of preferred networks limits patient access to pharmacy providers whose services improve lives and help address poor medication adherence, an issue that costs the nation approximately $290 billion annually,” NACDS said in its statement.
Instead, NACDS emphasized the importance of patient choice in choosing pharmacy providers, citing that nearly all Americans (92%) live within five miles of a community retail pharmacy.
"Open networks provide greater access and more choices, particularly in more rural areas with fewer pharmacies. Additionally, community pharmacies meet patients’ needs for convenient access through a highly competitive environment that gives consumers choices in how their medications and healthcare services are provided,” the Association said in its statement.
NACDS also cited that exchange plan limitations on the number of pharmacies that can participate in a network also limit patient access to knowledgeable professionals, which play a critical role in providing care and cost savings. In addition, NACDS expressed concerns about restrictions on drug formularies in exchange plans.
“NACDS is concerned that patients who face restricted drug formularies and cost sharing may choose to skip their necessary medications, because they simply cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs. Overall care for these patients may prove more costly in the long run, defeating the goals of providing high quality, more affordable care,” NACDS said in its statement.