NCPA recommends healthcare-reform provisions to White House
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Four policy proposals drafted by the National Community Pharmacists Association will benefit patients, taxpayers and pharmacies, the organization said.
The proposals — which are featured in a letter to President Obama — are in line with the White House’s upcoming healthcare-reform summit on Feb. 25.
The letter, written by Bruce Roberts, NCPA EVP and CEO, focused on four proposals that may help reduce costs, improve quality and increase efficiency. They include:
- Encouraging greater use of generic prescription drugs by reforming the Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement formula, which would “[assure] both the continued dispensing of lower cost generic medications, and patient access to their neighborhood community pharmacies.”
- Implementing transparency requirements for pharmacy benefit managers that lower drug costs. “Provisions included in both House and Senate healthcare-reform bills that would begin the process of creating transparency requirements for pharmacy benefit managers,” Roberts wrote. “This transparency language begins the process of making important reforms to the last bastion of unregulated entities in the health insurance marketplace: PBMs transparency gives health plans and payers important information that will empower them to make sure that PBMs are putting the best interests of the plan sponsor and its enrollees ahead of the self-serving financial interests of the PBMs.”
- Expanding pharmacists’ patient care services through medication therapy management. It is estimated that improper medication adherence “costs the nation’s healthcare system more than $290 billion annually.”
- Providing tax credits to help pharmacies and other small businesses offer health insurance
Boston bans tobacco sales in retail pharmacies
A few months after San Francisco drug stores cleared their inventories of anything with tobacco, a city on the opposite side of the country passed a similar ban. Boston has banned tobacco sales in retail pharmacies as well, but its ban covers all stores that operate pharmacies, not just drug stores.
While Walgreens sued San Francisco over its ban, alleging discrimination, it has accepted the one in Boston without complaint. Health officials in San Francisco might want to pay a little attention to what’s happening in Boston because it could help them save a few pennies on legal fees.
Pharmacy’s role in health reform
WASHINGTON “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” That dictum, attributed to Ben Franklin, could apply to the increasingly urgent campaign by a wide-ranging assortment of pharmacy and retail advocacy groups to speak with one voice in policymaking circles. In the midst of an economic crisis, a dysfunctional healthcare system in dire need of new cost-saving solutions and a revolution in technology and communications, pharmacy leaders from every practice setting are acutely aware of the need for a united front.
That goes double when making pharmacy’s case for a larger and fully integrated role in the healthcare system of the future. When the leaders of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and other organizations appeal to lawmakers in Congress amid debates about health reform and health information technology, they’re also making their case in the court of public opinion.
Dealing with congressional staffers on Capitol Hill is just as challenging. Given the complexity of such issues as fair pharmacy reimbursement, patient privacy, health IT, medication therapy management and coordination of care, it’s essential that the disparate and sometimes competing stakeholders that represent all aspects of pharmacy put aside their differences and “hang together.”
“The future direction of the industry hinges on the willingness of NACDS members to engage in the public policy debates of the day, since affecting our short- and long-term future is the primary reason we all choose to participate in associations like this one,” said NACDS chairman and Katz Group North America CEO Andy Giancamilli at the recent NACDS Regional Chain Conference. “But now we need even more members to engage in powering the NACDS advocacy engine.”