PHARMACY

NCPA: Independent pharmacy can benefit health insurance exchanges

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday touted the benefits community pharmacies can provide for health insurance exchanges once those exchange open in 2014 in a letter addressed to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Federal and state officials from both parties are making considerable efforts now to make certain that patients will have access to affordable, quality medical coverage when health insurance exchanges open in 2014,” stated NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey. “The services of community pharmacists, such as expert medication counseling, are critical to improving patient outcomes and reducing costs in these plans, as well as those outside of the exchanges.”

NCPA’s comments to HHS included the following recommendations:

  • HHS should adopt the Department of Defense/TRICARE standard for pharmacy access in plans offered through the state exchanges. That minimum standard sets forth an adjusted scale for pharmacy access in urban, suburban and rural communities (e.g., at least 70% of beneficiaries in rural areas on average must live within 15 miles of a participating retail pharmacy);

  • To further ensure access, plans also should consider, where appropriate, designating community pharmacies in low-income, underserved areas as “essential community providers”;

  • To maximize the cost-savings from pharmacy benefit manager disclosure requirements, HHS should issue guidance so health plans get an accurate grasp of the complex, multifaceted revenue streams of PBMs;

  • Specifically as it relates to payments to PBMs by manufacturers and other entities, NCPA suggests a definition of “indirect compensation” to reflect revenue retained by PBMs in addition to rebates; and

  • Adopt a more transparent process for evaluating proposed changes to plans in the health exchanges than the state plan amendment process currently employed in Medicaid. For example, proposed changes could be publicly disclosed in advance of HHS’ ruling on them.

To view the letter in its entirety, click here.

 


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Pharmacy coalition to oppose Express Scripts/Medco merger from the Hill

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition will be traveling to the nation’s capital on Thursday to urge Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to support patient care and oppose the planned merger between Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions, the coalition announced Monday.

While in town, the group will host a press conference outside of the Capitol and attend meetings with policy-makers. Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Thomas Marino, R-Pa.; and Eva Clayton (retired) will join Douglas Hoey, National Community Pharmacists Association CEO; Dennis Archer, PCPAN chief legal counsel; and Mike Brandt, owner of Globe Drug and Medical Equipment in making remarks at the press conference.
 
The PCPA NOW! coalition argues that the merger will create a consolidated pharmacy benefit manager with excessive control over the health care of tens of millions of Americans that will lead to higher prices for a lower quality of health care. The PCPA NOW! coalition hopes to educate consumers, policy-makers and others on the negative impact of approving the merger, in an effort to stop it from moving forward.


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Diabetes Rx to provide resources to American Diabetes Association members

BY Allison Cerra

HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. — A new online healthcare service powered by Healthcare Resources Online and developed for members of the American Diabetes Association has made its debut.

Diabetes Rx works to connect ADA members to diabetes resources in order to meet the needs of enhanced patient care for both diabetes professionals and their patients at no cost, Healthcare Resources Online said. Diabetes Rx includes such resources as patient education materials, product coupons, samples and vouchers, product information and a variety of patient assistance programs for each product. Additional resources from the ADA also will be available through Diabetes Rx.

In addition to its suite of resources, members also will have the ability to participate in market research, easily find clinical trials suitable for their patients by searching what is being touted as the largest U.S. clinical trial database with an easy-to-use search interface. Diabetes Rx also soon will feature an e-prescribing platform as well.

“I know from experience that it can be difficult to quickly find information on a particular medication, and it’s incredibly helpful to have a tool that simplifies that process by putting information on all of the agents used to treat diabetes, lipids, and blood pressure together in one convenient spot,” American Diabetes Association SVP clinical affairs M. Sue Kirkman said.


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