WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The Supreme Court's decision last week to maintain the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act doesn't mean much. Not really. Because without regard of who's paying for what services, more people will need more health care in 2014 than people need health care today. And already many pharmacy retailers are exploring market-driven healthcare solutions to meet those future needs — developing new sustainable revenue streams to supplement an increasingly commoditized prescription business and creating new patient-friendly health services to differentiate one pharmacy experience from another.
(THE NEWS: ACA stands: Supreme Court rules law is a tax. For the full story, click here.)
To be sure, healthcare reform will be a hot-button topic in the election to come. And it will remain a hot-botton topic in the years to follow as Republicans and Democrats continue to rehash what healthcare reform should look like. But for now, it looks as though there will be more insured patients beginning in 2014, even if Medicaid is not expanded in all 50 states as was originally intended by the Affordable Care Act.
Though the Supreme Court decision doesn't change much today (beyond removing that stick federal legislators would have used to ensure all states expanded their Medicaid roles) the healthcare-reform legislation does matter, and will continue to matter for what's already in the bill and, more importantly, will continue to matter for the role pharmacy will play.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores' statement on the issue noted that the whole healthcare-reform debate has set the stage for pharmacy to play an integral role in how that healthcare reform is realized at the ground level. Medication therapy management initiatives and compliance/adherence programs will continue to represent easily implemented cost-cutting strategies around which retail pharmacy plays a central role. "The best approach for future progress continues to be saving lives, enhancing patient care and reducing healthcare costs. NACDS and the pharmacy industry we represent have the power and potential to help achieve these goals," NACDS stated.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you think the Supreme Court's decision will influence retail pharmacy sooner than later? Do you think pharmacy should take on this role or a different one in healthcare reform? Post your comments below.