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NCPA responds to congressional members' concerns over short-term cycle dispensing rule

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Ten members of Congress expressed concerns over a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that is said to reduce Medicare program costs, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In a letter sent to CMS administrator Donald Berwick on Friday, the congressional members — Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill.; Aaron Schock, R-Ill.; John Barrow, D-Ga.; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Shelley Capito, R-W.Va.; Geoff Davis, R-Ky.; Sam Graves, R-Mo.; and Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y. — said they were unsure what was motivating CMS' plan to move ahead with the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking provision, which would limit short-cycle dispensing of brand-name drugs for long-term care facilities. The representatives addressed the lack of evidence that could support the idea that shorter dispensing cycles would save money. In the letter, the representatives urged CMS to delay the implementation.

In response, the National Community Pharmacists Association's EVP and CEO, Kathleen Jaeger, said she appreciated the representatives speaking up on behalf of pharmacists and patients in long-term care facilities. “While we all share the goal of eliminating waste in programs like Medicare Part D, there is scant evidence substantiating that a move to shorter dispensing cycles would actually reduce costs," Jaeger said. “More importantly, the requirement is very burdensome for pharmacies, which may have to invest significant resources in order to comply with the regulation."

"Before CMS moves forward with implementation, we hope it will conduct a thorough, fact-finding study to determine what is the wisest course of action," Jaeger continued. "Plowing ahead without that data could have unintended consequences, such as higher costs to Medicare or fewer pharmacies providing LTC services. Those are outcomes nobody should want."

The NCPA operates a division that focuses on LTCs, Jaeger pointed out, and said that, “[our] association’s staff and membership will continue working with like-minded organizations to engage Congress, CMS and others on this issue for a positive resolution that benefits patients, payers and pharmacists.”

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