PHARMACY

Bartell Drugs, Kaiser Permanente open 13th CareClinic

BY David Salazar

SEATTLE — Another CareClinic by Kaiser Permanente has opened at Bartell Drugs, the health system announced Thursday. The clinic, which is now open to Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula residents, marks the 13th clinic that Bartell Drugs and Kaiser Permanente operate. 

“Patients come to our CareClinics for quality and convenient care,” said Kaiser Permanente clinician Michael Erickson, CareClinic chief. “We’ve proven that CareClinics live up to the promise of quickly diagnosing and treating common ailments. We get you in, taken care of and on your way for an affordable price.”

Kaiser Permanente said that visits cost $75 for patients without health coverage, or a patient can bill their insurance plan. Members of Kaiser Permanente have their visit information included in their electronic health record to allow for more coordinated care, and records can be shared with a patient’s primary care physician if they are non-members.

The new CareClinic will offer services seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Kaiser Permanente said it plans to add two more clinics by the end of the year at Bartell Drugs stores in Snoqualmie Ridge and Redmond Town Center.

“Bartell Drugs guests have told us they want the ability to get care and treatment as well as everyday necessities in one place,” Bartelll Drugs’ director of CareClinic operations, John Lewis said. “That’s why we’re so excited to continue our expansion in order to offer our services to more communities around the region.”

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PHARMACY

CVS Health survey finds voters concerned about drug prices

BY David Salazar

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — In an attempt to gauge patients’ attitudes toward the cost of prescription drugs, CVS Health in April conducted a survey of registered voters, whose results the company released Thursday. The survey found that 88% of respondents are somewhat or very concerned about the high cost of prescription drugs.

Among those concerned about drug prices, a higher percentage of women than men (60% vs. 47%, respectively) are very concerned about the cost of prescription medication. And generationally, voters between 45 and 65 years old were more likely to report concern than younger respondents, as were voterswho take three or more prescription drugs.

CVS Health also found sizable support for increased competition and faster drug review times. 47% of respondents said there aren’t enough different prescription drugs available to treat their conditions, and 47% said there’s not enough competition in the marketplace. Sixty percent of voters 55 to 64 years old say there isn’t enough competition among drug makers.

The company noted that among its efforts to keep costs low for patients are direct negotiations with manufacturers through its CVS Caremark pharmacy benefits manager, offering negotiated discounts at point of sale, encouraging the use of generic drugs and biosimilars and its Reduced Rx program, which aims to help patients with high out-of-pocket costs afford their medicine. 

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NCPA shares suggestions for Medicaid managed care rule with CMS

BY David Salazar

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — As the Trump administration reviews policies in the Medicaid managed care rule, the National Community Pharmacists Association shared with Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a list of provisions it hopes will be included in the rule.

“Independent community pharmacists are proud to play a vital role in the Medicaid program as the backbone of its drug benefit,” NCPA wrote. “Local pharmacists provide expert medication counseling and other cost-saving services that help mitigate the estimated $290 billion that is spent annually as a result of patients who do not adhere properly to their medication regimen. More than any other segment of the pharmacy industry, independent pharmacies are often located in the underserved rural and urban areas that are home to many Medicaid recipients.”

NCPA pointed to such benefits that come from pharmacists’ services as preventing high-cost downstream medical intervention that can cost the Medicaid program a lot of money. The organization urged Verma to keep the rule’s provision that requires states to create and enforce network adequacy standards — time and distance requirements — for such providers as pharmacies.

“Access to pharmacy care services and prescription medications play a critical role in managing chronic conditions and staving off costly downstream medical interventions,” NCPA wrote “Requiring appropriate access standards and the enforcement thereof is essential particularly in the Medicaid program given the fact that many beneficiaries may rely on public transportation or live in a very rural area with limited access to transportation.”

The organization also voiced its support for a provision in the final rule that would require managed care organizations to meet Medicaid fee-for-service standards regarding the availability and prior authorization of covered outpatient prescription drugs. Additionally, NCPA called on CMS to adivse states that managed care organizations must use fee-for-service Medicaid pharmacy provider reimbursement rates as the minimum reimbursement.

“Medicaid fee-for-service pharmacy reimbursement is now required to be based on pharmacy acquisition cost plus a reasonable cost of dispensing the medication,” NCPA wrote. “Any reimbursement metric that goes below this standard is likely to leave many pharmacy providers “underwater” on the medications that they dispense.”

The final rule is set to go into effect on July 1.

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