PHARMACY

A healthier society costs everybody less

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Budget cuts are never an easy thing to do. Even if slashing spending on this program or that program can help replenish the government’s coffers and reduce a budget deficit, somebody always ends up losing.

(THE NEWS: Healthcare providers can challenge Calif. Medicaid cuts, Supreme Court rules. For the full story, click here)

In the case of California, cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, called Medi-Cal, would put patient access to community pharmacies in jeopardy as many would not receive reimbursements sufficient to make up for the cost of medications. In fact, as several pharmacy groups challenging cuts to Medi-Cal said in January when a lower court blocked the 10% reimbursement rate cut, many prescription drugs already are reimbursed at break-even rates.

But the idea of cutting pharmacy reimbursement rates also oversimplifies the issue and ignores the many ways that pharmacies can help save money.

According to most sources, medication nonadherence costs the country’s healthcare system $290 billion per year in otherwise unneeded medical costs. But pharmacy services, such as medication therapy management, can help reduce those costs by allowing the pharmacist to consult directly with the patient about the importance of taking medications as directed by physicians and the potential consequences of failing to do so. Meanwhile, such services as vaccinations can head off a number of medical costs by preventing people from getting sick in the first place.

Cutting spending on pharmacy reimbursements might seem like a quick and effective way to save money, but it’s shortsighted and misses the point: In the long run, a healthier society costs everybody less.

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Anna90 says:
Apr-13-2012 08:30 am

I absolutely agree with this article and I am sure that cutting spending on pharmacy reimbursements is not the best step.Pharmacies can really help save money, because it's even hard to imagine how many things depends on nation's health.Healthcare industry is one of the most expensive,staying health needs costs.I think that government should assist to medical programs and pharmacies, because healthy people can boost an economy doing different job, and of course health society will cost everybody less.The main things are that pharmacies can really help to save money and healthy society is a base of strong state. Anna from http://britainloans.co.uk/

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PHARMACY

Healthcare providers can challenge Calif. Medicaid cuts, Supreme Court rules

BY Alaric DeArment

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Supreme Court has sent a lawsuit challenging cuts to California’s Medicaid program back to a lower court.

The high court ruled 5-4 in the case of Douglas v. Independent Living Center of Southern California that healthcare providers could challenge Medicaid reimbursement cuts under the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause. The decision returns the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had originally ruled that the providers had standing to sue.

The case was filed in 2008 in California’s Federal District Court, arguing that a 10% reimbursement cut in the Medi-Cal program violated the federal patient access law.

A group of pharmacy organizations, including the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmacists Association and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, praised the ruling.

"Ensuring patient access to pharmacy care should not be compromised in an attempt to remedy budget challenges," NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. "Community pharmacy provides unsurpassed value in improving health and reducing costs across the board."


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PHARMACY

Walgreens releases data, white paper touting value of 90-day retail refills

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — One year after launching a national awareness campaign focused on the benefits of 90-day prescription refills at retail pharmacies, Walgreens on Friday released new data supporting the success of the 90-day refill program and its overarching benefits to patients and payers. Walgreens also released a white paper outlining in greater detail the ways in which 90-day retail refills can help improve adherence and reduce costs.

“We know that the 90-day retail option can be effective in helping to reduce overall healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes through better medication adherence,” stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy health-and-wellness services and solutions. “Medication nonadherence is one of the biggest hurdles in treating illness today. In addition to working with patients and payers to drive cost savings, our 90-day retail offerings have fostered deep and trusted relationships with our pharmacists and given patients greater convenience, resulting in 15% greater adherence versus 30-day.”

The key data underscoring the initiative’s success to date includes:

  • An increase of more than 30% in 90-day retail prescription volume with more than 150 million adjusted 90-day prescriptions filled during calendar year 2011;

  • Increases in Walgreens 90-day retail market share — including year-over-year growth from 17.6% to more than 20.3% in December; and

  • An industry-leading awareness level of customers knowledgeable of the 90-day retail option — more than 8 percentage points higher than the competition.

The 90-day retail initiative focuses on informing eligible patients of the option to receive 90-day medication supplies from their neighborhood Walgreens retail pharmacy, and encourages prescription plan administrators to offer this choice to their members. Walgreens had developed the campaign to heighten awareness of 90-day retail options, citing a prior lack of awareness (58%) among patients as a primary barrier to greater adoption of 90-day prescriptions. 

Walgreens also issued a new white paper, “The Value of 90-Day Retail,” (to download, click here) further analyzing the benefits of 90-day prescription refills at retail pharmacies, including those the company’s clients and partners have recognized through the recent addition of this option to their benefits plans.

“Today’s healthcare landscape continues to evolve, along with the growing needs of payers and health plans, and there is strong evidence supporting the benefits of adding a 90-day retail option,” stated Jeffrey Berkowitz, Walgreens SVP pharmaceutical development and market access. “While some are focused on reducing choice and convenience for members, we believe programs like 90-day retail, which offers much greater options, can be a key driver in maximizing member benefits and savings. Walgreens is driving greater consumer awareness, and with innovative technology and convenient nationwide access, we’re uniquely positioned to help bring this offering to other healthcare groups.”

The paper examines how combining 90-day retail refills with the more common 30-day retail and 90-day mail options can help achieve cost savings, improved medication adherence and patient outcomes, as well as higher member satisfaction. The paper also unveils data refuting common misconceptions around 90-day retail options, such as the belief that savings generated would be negated by mail-order cannibalization or that it increases medication waste.

The white paper also features a new case study outlining how a mid-sized pharmacy benefit manager client has realized more than $43 million in cost savings, driven by an 18% increase in total 90-day penetration — just 18 months after adopting a 90-day retail offering.


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