NCPA ads feature community pharmacy proposals to trim federal deficit

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With the congressional “super-committee” inching closer to making budget decisions to reduce the deficit, the National Community Pharmacists Association announced on Monday that it has developed two new advertisements reinforcing how local pharmacists can reduce federal healthcare costs.

“Community pharmacists can help reduce healthcare expenses by maximizing the appropriate utilization of lower-cost generic drugs and through face-to-face, expert counseling on the proper use of medications as prescribed for patients,” stated NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. “Small-business community pharmacies are ready and willing to work constructively with policy-makers to address rising medical costs while maintaining patients’ access to the cost-cutting services of local pharmacists.”

NCPA first offered its recommendations in a Sept. 7 letter to “super-committee” members.

NCPA’s first ad focuses on overall deficit reduction. It offers policy-makers five recommendations to lower spending:

  • Utilize local pharmacists to increase the appropriate use of low-cost generic drugs in Medicare Part D, Medicaid and Tricare;

  • Reduce an estimated $290 billion in avoidable healthcare spending by empowering pharmacists to counsel patients face-to-face on proper medication use;

  • Collect billions of dollars in drug manufacturer rebates retained by middlemen pharmacy benefit managers in Medicare, Medicaid and Federal Employees Health Benefits Program;

  • Reduce costly waste in mail-order pharmacy, particularly “mandatory mail” plans; and

  • Allow community pharmacists to continue providing advice and testing supplies to keep Medicare patients with diabetes healthy.

The second ad highlights H.R. 1936, the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, legislation introduced by Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Peter Welch, D-Vt. The bipartisan bill would reduce the deficit and permanently exempt independent community pharmacies (defined as 10 or fewer pharmacies under common ownership) from competitive bidding prices in the Medicare Part B Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies program. A recent survey of more than 800 community pharmacists found 84% of them would be forced to stop providing access to diabetes testing supplies if they had to competitively bid or accept prices set by that process.

In addition, NCPA has developed an analysis of the many cuts community pharmacies have already had to absorb in recent years. That document finds that community pharmacies have seen prescription drug reimbursement slashed by more than $15 billion. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of independent community pharmacies that are operating at an overall financial loss has increased by 64% and now accounts for 23% of independent community pharmacies.