HHS announces $25 million reallocation for AIDS drug assistance
WASHINGTON The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday it would reallocate $25 million to improve access of HIV/AIDS prescription drugs to states with AIDS drug assistance programs.
HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the funds are one part of a broader effort HHS is making to improve the health status of people living with HIV.
“Improving access to care and treatment for people living with HIV is a top priority for HHS,” Sebelius said. “Created under the Affordable Care Act, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will provide a new health coverage option for Americans who have been uninsured for at least six months and have been unable to get health coverage because of a health condition — including HIV. This option will be available until 2014, when insurers will be banned from discriminating against adults with pre-existing conditions,” Sebelius added.
NCPA urges delay of PECOS changes that could deter community pharmacy industry
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Fearing that the implementation of an electronic provider enrollment program for Medicare Part B in its current form by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services could disrupt Part B beneficiaries’ ability to obtain access to their services and supplies, the National Community Pharmacists Association is hoping that the CMS will delay its implementation and make other changes.
The provider enrollment, chain and ownership system is an online system that Part B providers can use instead of paper enrollment so that they can sell durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies, also known as DMEPOS.
The CMS originally had planned to roll out PECOS on Tuesday, but it announced June 30 that while the original implementation date would still be effective, it would “not implement changes that would automatically reject claims based on orders, certifications, and referrals made by providers that have not yet had their applications approved by July 6, 2010.” The NCPA had asked the CMS to delay implementation until Jan. 3, 2011.
Other recommendations made by the NCPA included requiring pharmacy access to nightly provider-referrer enrollment updates to PECOS and removing requirements to include the teaching physician as the ordering or referring supplier and the legal name of the physician or eligible provider on the claim.
“Community pharmacies appreciate and support the PECOS program’s effort to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare,” NCPA acting EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey said. “However, the slow pace of enrollment and database updates, along with other deficiencies, creates headaches for community pharmacies and could limit access to Medicare Part B medical supplies for seniors, especially in underserved areas.”
Merck announces global consolidation plan
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck will close down eight of its research and development sites and eight of its manufacturing sites as part of a global consolidation plan, the drug maker said Thursday.
The plan will result in around 15% of the company’s staff being laid off as Merck seeks to create a “flexible” research and development organization that focuses on innovation, external collaboration and growth in the company’s product pipeline.
“Today’s announcement is another important step as we successfully integrate our global operations on schedule and move forward with Merck’s strategic priorities,” chairman and CEO Richard Clark said. “These changes are crucial to drive future growth and realize the promise of being a global healthcare leader for the long term.”