New Rx FSA rule deemed operationally impossible by industry thought leaders
WASHINGTON — A panel of healthcare thought leaders has concluded that a recent IRS rule change going into effect Jan. 14, 2011, will demand retail system challenges that are operationally impossible to overcome in the limited time frame required.
And the National Association of Chain Drug Stores couldn’t agree more.
The new rule is the requirement of a written prescription to qualify over-the-counter medicines as reimbursable medical expenses through the use of pre-tax flexible spending accounts. Before, a consumer would just have to swipe his or her FSA debit card when making an eligible OTC purchase. Now he or she has to make a doctor’s visit and get a prescription.
“We see this as a threat to consumer access and choice at a time when we need our citizens to be more engaged in managing their health and the cost of care,” stated Jon Comola, executive director of the Foundation for HealthSmart Consumers. According to foundation researchers, the resulting costs could reach $2.5 billion annually if doctor visits and lab tests are incurred by even 10% of the insured population; potential new pharmacy costs could reach $3 billion annually.
NACDS is concerned that current IRS guidance would prohibit the use of debit cards in the purchase of not only any prescribed OTC medicine, but also any prescription-only therapy. “Currently, there is no robust interaction between pharmacy dispensing systems and IIAS systems,” NACDS stated. The Inventory Information Approval System is used to substantiate purchases for flexible spending accounts.
“IIAS systems cannot distinguish between a medication for which a prescription is required and an OTC that has been prescribed,” NACDS explained. “As a result, a prohibition on using debit cards for prescribed OTC medications could have the practical effect of prohibiting the use of debit cards for all prescribed medications.”
Daryl Beck joins Emerson
WAYNE, Pa. The Emerson Group recently announced that 37-year industry veteran Daryl Beck has joined the company and will manage the company’s military sales business, as well as call on Walmart.
“Over his career, [Beck] has called on major wholesale and retail accounts, including Walmart, Sam’s, JC Penney, Eckerd Drug, Family Dollar Stores, Fox Meyer and Sally Beauty,” stated Rick Wellinger, Emerson president. “[Beck] has developed a true understanding of the logistical side of Walmart’s business and works closely with replenishment to ensure optimal service levels for our Walmart clients. He is a key contributor to our success at our largest retailer.”
Beck first joined Hynes Sales in 1973. He assumed responsibility for calling on Walmart, which had 225 stores at that time, in 1978. The following year, he was promoted to general manager of Hynes’ Southwest division and held that position until 2008, when Acosta acquired Hynes. Since then, Beck has served as a director for Acosta, continuing to call on Walmart headquarters. He also has called on the Army and Air Force Exchange Service for the past 10 years.
Beck is a graduate of Georgia State University and will continue to live in the Dallas area.
Eboost launches ‘berry’ good energy shot
NEW YORK Eboost on Thursday launched its super berry liquid shot, formulated with a host of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including vitamins C, D, B6 and B12, folic acid, niacin, selenium, chromium, zinc and green tea. The 15-calorie beverage also is formulated with nutrient-rich superfruits, including pure extracts of blueberry, blackberry, pomegranate, mango, acai, maqui berry and grapeseed.
The new ready-to-drink energy beverage is available in four flavors — citrus orange, pink lemonade, acai pomegranate and super berry. It’s available as effervescent powder packets, tablets and liquid shot forms at select retailers, including Bed, Bath & Beyond and Duane Reade.