PHARMACY

Amid Insurance Exchange rollout, NACDS’ Anderson engages media to promote community pharmacy

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — In light of the increased attention on the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — both in Washington and in the media — and Tuesday’s opening of the health insurance exchange, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is engaging with the media to emphasize pharmacies’ valuable role in the U.S. healthcare system.

In fact, on Tuesday morning NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson appeared on Bloomberg TV’s "Surveillance" program, where he described pharmacies’ important role in healthcare delivery.

“Our members are living up to the trust and expectations that the American people toward pharmacy providing advice and guidance to a rather complicated process in terms of implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” Anderson said.

Anderson also discussed the importance of expanded services within pharmacy, such as MTM and improving medication adherence — which is estimated to result in $290 billion in added healthcare costs each year.

To watch the segment, click here.

In addition, a recent NACDS-member newsletter article featured insights from Carol Kelly, NACDS SVP government affairs and public policy, who discusses preparing members for implementation and her insights into the law based on her longtime healthcare policy expertise.

To read the article, click here.

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American Health Care establishes pharmacist care network across Missouri

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Pharmacists in the Show-Me State have a new opportunity to demonstrate — and be paid for — their ability to help patients achieve measurable progress in fighting several chronic conditions, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the Missouri Pharmacy Association and the Missouri Pharmacist Care Network announced Tuesday.

With the help of such pharmacy organizations as the NCPA, MPA and MO-PCN, American Health Care is establishing a pharmacist care network across Missouri. NCPA is now accepting applications from community pharmacists who want to be part of the network and provide disease state management services to qualified patients. The program is intended to enhance patient well-being and to build to the body of evidence that pharmacist-provided disease management services can improve patient outcomes and lower costs for employers, health plans and accountable care organizations. 

Pharmacists participating in the network as care managers, or “coaches,” meet every one to three months with patients, help them work toward concrete health goals and record the pharmacist’s efforts through an easy-to-use, Web-based platform. Pharmacists would be compensated for documented cases. Such chronic diseases as diabetes, hypertension and lipid management are expected to be among the focal points, although the exact range of conditions treated will be determined by the employers and/or health plans with which AHC contracts. 

“Community pharmacists are highly trained and are overwhelmingly trusted by patients, putting these providers in an ideal position to play a larger role in the U.S. healthcare system,” Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO, stated. “The opportunity for pharmacists should only grow more substantial as more Americans are expected to gain healthcare coverage and the primary care shortage becomes more acute. This program offers Missouri pharmacists a prime opportunity to improve patient lives, grow their business and further prove the value that all community pharmacists present to health plans and their sponsors.”

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Medicare, Medicaid, Health Insurance Marketplace to continue operating amid government shutdown

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The Department of Health and Human Services will furlough more than half of its employees due to the government shutdown, the agency said.

In announcing a contingency staffing plan for the shutdown, which started Tuesday when Congress failed to pass a budget in time, HHS said 52% of its employees would be on furlough, totaling 40,512 members of its staff. The remaining 48%, or 37,686 employees, would remain. The scheduled introduction of the health insurance exchanges mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will also continue.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will "continue large portions of ACA activities," and Medicare will continue largely without disruption. Meanwhile, due to the advanced appropriation enacted in the fiscal year 2013 appropriations legislation, states will continue to have funding for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Food and Drug Administration will continue "limited" activities related to user fee-funded programs and such vital activities as consumer protection and high-risk recalls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue minimal support for protecting health of U.S. citizens here and abroad, while the National Institutes of Health will continue to care for current NIH Clinical Center patients and some other services.

Nevertheless, the CDC will not be able to support the annual seasonal influenza program, outbreak detection or linking across states using genetic and molecular analysis, and the NIH will not be able to admit most new patients.

On Tuesday, HHS announced the opening of the exchanges, officially known as the Health Insurance Marketplace, without mentioning the shutdown. Coverage begins as early as Jan. 1, 2014 for people who enroll by Dec. 15.

"For years, the financial, physical or mental health of millions of Americans suffered because they couldn’t afford the care they or their family needed," HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "But thanks to the healthcare law, all of that is changing. Today’s launch begins a new day when healthcare coverage will be more accessible and affordable than ever before."

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