AMP progress validates pharmacy’s resolve
They say hindsight is 20/20. With the Supreme Court’s ruling on healthcare reform, the luxury of looking back shows that the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and allies took the right course to battle the pharmacy Medicaid cuts of the Deficit Reduction Act. What we learned should inspire pharmacy to remain tenacious in its continued advocacy on this issue and in confronting all other challenges.
No stone was left unturned as NACDS, the National Community Pharmacists Association and others waged an all-branches-and-all-levels-of-government strategy to attack the pharmacy cuts in the DRA that resulted from the average manufacturer price model. That is a good thing, as the cuts would have jeopardized access to pharmacy patient care, resulting in poorer health and increased long-term health costs.
No one could have predicted the complex twists that the battle over the AMP cuts would take after passage in 2006 of the DRA. The fact that a new approach to Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement would be included in a new healthcare-reform law — a law that itself would be the subject of a most unconventional and unexpected Supreme Court ruling — seems to fit the life story of this issue.
AMP’s path involved legal action, due to a lawsuit filed by NACDS and NCPA. It involved action by true friends of pharmacy in Congress who legislated a delay in the cuts. It also involved the use of research, public relations, grassroots mobilization, collaboration with patient advocacy groups, coordination with state government affairs and more.
All of these aspects of the fight led up to the crescendo that we knew all along would be necessary to address the AMP cuts: a change in the law itself. Community pharmacy achieved several improvements to the approach to Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement in one part of the much, much larger healthcare-reform law.
It is imperative that community pharmacy never forget the lesson of what, to this point, has been a six-year battle. Pharmacy worked in united fashion with a sound strategy. It found its voice in communicating the value of pharmacy to external audiences, instead of just preaching to the choir. It did not back down and stood its ground at every pivotal point. It was not deterred by an analysis of the odds, and it was motivated by a passion for patient care that could not be dampened.
However, our effort is far from complete. The implementation phase of the healthcare law will require a great deal of continued engagement by NACDS and its allies. That certainly is true of the executive branch’s implementation of the new AMP provisions. The great AMP debate is not yet over, nor is the larger effort to secure community pharmacy’s rightful place in an approach to healthcare delivery that offers the most promise for patients nationwide.
But when it comes to moving forward, at least pharmacy can find an example of success by looking back at all it already achieved in fighting the AMP cuts and securing much-needed victories for patient care.
Steve Anderson is president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
RCEC 2012 upbeat as retail clinics reach tipping point
Call it the Year of the Retail Clinic.
As the Drug Store News Group and its partners at the Convenient Care Association played host to several hundred in-store based providers in Orlando, Fla., in late July for the fifth annual Retail Clinician Education Congress, several signs began to emerge that the retail clinic model had reached a critical tipping point. Not the least of which is that for the third year in a row, the U.S. Senate had resolved to name the week of Aug. 6 National Convenient Care Week.
“The U.S. Senate’s resolution recognizes the tremendous value of the convenient care option,” CCA executive director Tine Hansen-Turton told RCEC attendees.
“DSN has long believed that the practitioners working in America’s retail clinics are on the front lines of a major revolution in health care,” DSN editor in chief Rob Eder told RCEC attendees during his July 30 opening remarks. “The Senate’s resolution and its call on the states to champion the unilateral expansion of retail clinics is an important indication that people in Washington understand and appreciate the role retail clinics can and should play in the future of health care.”
But even before the Senate’s resolution, clinic leaders agreed that in recent months support had been growing for the retail clinic model, beginning with an article published in the May 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Retail Clinics and Drugstore Medicine,” written by a Philadelphia-based physician who came out squarely in support of the model.
The JAMA article was followed soon after by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in late June, which led to a series of high-profile news articles, including a July 29 story that appeared on page 1 of the Sunday New York Times, “Dr. Shortage to worsen under health reform.” A story that appeared the next day on page 1 of the Los Angeles Times was perhaps a bit more to the point: “Retail clinics grow with healthcare act.”
By Aug. 1, with RCEC 2012 in full swing, the Massachusetts state legislature voted to pass an important healthcare cost containment bill, which was signed into law a week later by Gov. Deval Patrick. Among other important measures designed to save the state $200 billion in healthcare costs over the next 15 years, the new law expands the services of retail clinics in Massachusetts to the full scope of practice for a nurse practitioner, including diagnosis/treatment, management and monitoring of acute and chronic disease, and wellness and preventive services.
Just as Massachusetts has proven to a be model for health reform, it is believed that the state’s response to better manage health costs will likely become a model for other states, vastly expanding the scope of services for retail clinics all across the country. Meanwhile, it is projected that retail clinics will more or less double in number by 2015, according to estimates from Merchant Medicine.
Against this backdrop, the mood was decidedly upbeat among attendees at RCEC 2012. The event featured 15 hours of live continuing education dually accredited for both nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and the presentation of the fifth annual Retail Clinician CARE Awards, which honor the nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists whose special actions have come to define excellence in retail-based patient care. For the second year in a row, the event also included a special Collaborative Care track of education — six hours accredited for NPs, PAs and pharmacists.
Highlights from the event, along with profiles of this year’s CARE Award winners — and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Shirley Chater, PhD, RN, FAAN, former commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration and chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program’s national advisory committee — will appear in the September/October edition of DSN Collaborative Care.
Retail stars to headline DSN Issues Summit
Walgreens. CVS. Rite Aid. Walmart. Costco. Health Mart. Sam’s Club. Ahold. H-E-B. Winn-Dixie. McKesson. Good Neighbor Pharmacy. Kerr Drug. Rexall Canada. Family Dollar. Shoppers Drug Mart. Giant Eagle. The list of participating companies in the 14th Annual Drug Store News Group Industry Issues conference reads like a “who’s who” of retailing.
Headlining a high-powered lineup of retailers from top chains across food, drug, mass and dollar stores, Larry Kudlow, host of CNBC primetime’s “The Kudlow Report,” will deliver the special keynote lunch address between executive panel discussions at this year’s Industry Issues event, which will be held Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the highly prestigious New York Athletic Club in New York City.
“Now in it’s 14th year, Industry Issues Summit is about industry leaders and key decision-makers coming together from both the retailer and supplier communities to share productive conversations about the future opportunities within the chain pharmacy industry,” said Drug Store News Group publisher Wayne Bennett. “Sponsors and attendees get access to a great day of insightful discussions and networking among key industry influencers.”
In all, DSN will host three high-level business discussions as part of its Industry Issues conference, with three distinct groups of expert panelists, including:
Issues Summit: Moderated by Dan Mack, EVP strategic business development for The Swanson Group and managing director of the Mack Elevation Forum. Top retailers discuss best practices and new ideas for engaging shoppers in health, wellness and beauty;
Health, Wellness & Technology Summit: Moderated by Bob Dufour, COO and partner at Blue Ocean Innovative Solutions. Panelists, including top retail technology executives and new and emerging technology companies, examine new solutions to drive improved patient care using technology as an enabler; and
Diabetes Leadership Forum: Moderated by Dave Wendland, VP and co-owner of Hamacher Resource Group. This panel examines best practices among suppliers and retailers in improving health outcomes and maximizing opportunities to engage patients with diabetes.
In addition to the top-notch programming, the event also provides an important networking opportunity with key retailers with responsibilities that range across the entire store. To register to attend, visit DSNIndustryIssues.com; for sponsorship information, contact Wayne Bennett at [email protected]