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June 13, 2012

The National Rural Health Association on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., strongly supporting the bill she introduced in March — H.R. 4215, the Medicare Pharmacy Transparency and Fair Auditing Act.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Rural Health Association on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., strongly supporting the bill she introduced in March — H.R. 4215, the Medicare Pharmacy Transparency and Fair Auditing Act. The bill helps safeguard patient access to independent community pharmacists and addresses abusive pharmacy auditing practices, while allowing legitimate Medicare Part D anti-fraud oversight to continue.

June 1, 2012

The National Community Pharmacists Association on Friday identified three problematic regulations that inhibit job creation.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Friday identified three problematic regulations that inhibit job creation.

The Medicare Part B diabetes testing supplies competitive bidding program threatens patient access to these medical necessities, the association noted, and the 340B Drug Discount program also represents a challenge to community pharmacy due to its loose eligibility criteria. Lastly, job creation can be inhibited by the fee-for-service Medicare enrollment/revalidation fees that many pharmacies have to pay twice.

May 23, 2012

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed last year under health reform, Medicare now offers preventive wellness visits to seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B and select Medicare Advantage plans. For eligible seniors, these wellness visits can prove to be an important step in preventive care; however, the rates of utilization are surprisingly low. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this represents an ideal opportunity for convenient care clinics.

As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed last year under health reform, Medicare now offers preventive wellness visits to seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B and select Medicare Advantage plans. For eligible seniors, these wellness visits can prove to be an important step in preventive care; however, the rates of utilization are surprisingly low. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this represents an ideal opportunity for convenient care clinics.

May 14, 2012

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs to beef up its oversight on Medicare Part D submissions from retail pharmacy, according to an Office of Inspector General report published last week.

WASHINGTON — The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs to beef up its oversight on Medicare Part D submissions from retail pharmacy, according to an Office of Inspector General report published last week.

The OIG suggested CMS strengthen a MEDIC's ability to track pharmacy billing (MEDICs — Medicare Drug Integrity Contractors — are private organizations who are contracted by CMS to assist in anti-fraud and abuse efforts) and improve compliance plan audits, specifically targeting independent pharmacies and pharmacies in urban locales.

May 9, 2012

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced on Wednesday that it has submitted comments to the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health urging that retail pharmacies remain exempt from the Medicare durable medical equipment competitive bidding program.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced on Wednesday that it has submitted comments to the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health urging that retail pharmacies remain exempt from the Medicare durable medical equipment competitive bidding program. The subcommittee held a hearing regarding the program on Wednesday.

April 13, 2012

The news that Take Care Clinics now are offering wellness services for Medicare enrollees clearly demonstrates that there’s an opportunity for retail clinics to fill gaps in care, and promote wellness and better patient outcomes.

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The news that Take Care Clinics now are offering wellness services for Medicare enrollees clearly demonstrates that there’s an opportunity for retail clinics to fill gaps in care, and promote wellness and better patient outcomes.

(THE NEWS: Take Care Clinics offering Medicare wellness visits. For the full story, click here.)

April 12, 2012

Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, now is providing wellness services for Medicare enrollees at all Take Care Clinic locations throughout the country, the retail health clinic operator announced on Thursday.

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, now is providing wellness services for Medicare enrollees at all Take Care Clinic locations throughout the country, the retail health clinic operator announced on Thursday.

The Welcome to Medicare Preventive Visits and Medicare Yearly Wellness Visits are wellness services for Medicare enrollees, which include screenings for a number of common conditions, as well as education and counseling to encourage wellness and prevent disease.

March 21, 2012

Industry-supported legislation designed to improve pharmacy benefits manager standards under the Medicare prescription drug program — standards that will further provide fair audits of and payments to pharmacies — was presented before the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — Industry-supported legislation designed to improve pharmacy benefits manager standards under the Medicare prescription drug program — standards that will further provide fair audits of and payments to pharmacies — was presented before the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

February 29, 2012

The National Community Pharmacists Association last week sent a follow-up letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asking the agency to revisit a decision last month that effectively requires some pharmacies to pay duplicative fee-for-service Medicare enrollment/revalidation fees, according to the association.

WASHINGTON — The National Community Pharmacists Association last week sent a follow-up letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asking the agency to revisit a decision last month that effectively requires some pharmacies to pay duplicative fee-for-service Medicare enrollment/revalidation fees, according to the association.

December 21, 2011

According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, changes governing long-term care facilities that recently were proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services could create turmoil for independent community pharmacies providing LTC services, the association stated in a release Wednesday.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, changes governing long-term care facilities that recently were proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services could create turmoil for independent community pharmacies providing LTC services, the association stated in a release Wednesday.

October 28, 2011

Standard monthly premiums under Medicare Part B will be $99.90 in 2012, $6.70 under the projected figure made by the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS announced Thursday.

WASHINGTON — Standard monthly premiums under Medicare Part B will be $99.90 in 2012, $6.70 under the projected figure made by the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS announced Thursday.

This year's Medicare Part B premium is a $15.50 decrease over the standard 2011 premium of $115.40 paid by new enrollees and higher income Medicare beneficiaries and by Medicaid on behalf of low-income enrollees, HHS said. Additionally, the Medicare Part B deductible will be $140, a decrease of $22 from 2011.

October 18, 2011

In a letter to the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the super committee, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores provided recommendations related to diabetes testing supplies for Medicare patients.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a letter to the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the super committee, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores provided recommendations related to diabetes testing supplies for Medicare patients. NACDS said its recommendations would prevent the unintended consequences of hasty policy mistakes, and foster better and more cost-effective patient care.

October 14, 2011

Rite Aid said its pharmacists will be ready to help patients and caregivers choose the prescription drug plan that works best for them as 2012 Medicare Part D open enrollment begins Saturday.

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid said its pharmacists will be ready to help patients and caregivers choose the prescription drug plan that works best for them as 2012 Medicare Part D open enrollment begins Saturday.

Open enrollment is beginning a month earlier than in previous years so that Medicare administrators can process plan choices before the new year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

October 4, 2011

The National Community Pharmacists Association is recommending several ways for reducing Medicare Part D fraud, waste and abuse to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee, the group said Tuesday.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association is recommending several ways for reducing Medicare Part D fraud, waste and abuse to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee, the group said Tuesday.

October 3, 2011

Coventry Health Care on Saturday announced that it has partnered with Walgreens, Walmart and Target for 2012 to offer a Medicare prescription drug plan known as First Health Value Plus.

BETHESDA, Md. — Coventry Health Care on Saturday announced that it has partnered with Walgreens, Walmart and Target for 2012 to offer a Medicare prescription drug plan known as First Health Value Plus.

As Coventry’s newest Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, First Health Value Plus is the lowest premium, zero-dollar deductible Part D plan in the United States, the company stated.

October 3, 2011

CVS/pharmacy has teamed up with Aetna to offer Medicare beneficiaries a co-branded prescription drug plan.

HARTFORD, Conn. — CVS/pharmacy has teamed up with Aetna to offer Medicare beneficiaries a co-branded prescription drug plan.

The companies said the new Aetna CVS/pharmacy Prescription Drug Plan will be made available to beneficiaries in 43 states and Washington, D.C. The plan offers a $26 monthly plan premium and has no deductible for generic drugs. In addition, members will have the following benefits when they fill their prescriptions at a CVS/pharmacy (compared with a nonpreferred network pharmacy):

September 15, 2011

The use of over-the-counter medicines as a cost savings tool is catching on, of all places, at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — The use of over-the-counter medicines as a cost savings tool is catching on, of all places, at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Certain plans under Medicare are utilizing a new prepaid card of sorts to allow members to pay for their OTC medicines. Medicaid administrators, meanwhile, are employing that same card to incentivize healthier behavior among its members.

August 15, 2011

It's a strategic next step in retail pharmacy, a setting that has fast evolved as the intrinsic destination for all health-related matters: health advice, self-care solutions, medication therapy management, compliance programs, acute-care services and now, if the reports turn out to be accurate, branded healthcare insurance.

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — It's a strategic next step in retail pharmacy, a setting that has fast evolved as the intrinsic destination for all health-related matters: health advice, self-care solutions, medication therapy management, compliance programs, acute-care services and now, if the reports turn out to be accurate, branded healthcare insurance. And by the time this offering would be available in 2014, the need for affordable healthcare insurance may go well beyond the 48.6 million uninsured that exist today.

August 11, 2011

Medicare Part D beneficiaries showed better adherence to their oral diabetes drugs when receiving them by mail order, according to a new study.

IRVINE, Calif. — Medicare Part D beneficiaries showed better adherence to their oral diabetes drugs when receiving them by mail order, according to a new study.

The study, conducted on behalf of Prescription Solutions by OptumRx, the pharmacy benefit management arm of health services company Optum, and published in the Journal of Medical Economics, found that patients using mail-order pharmacy showed adherence rates of 49.7%, compared with 42.8% of those who went to retail pharmacies.

August 5, 2011

Medicare Part D prescription drug plan premiums will cost beneficiaries roughly $30 in 2012, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

WASHINGTON — Medicare Part D prescription drug plan premiums will cost beneficiaries roughly $30 in 2012, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a trade group representing pharmacy benefit managers, heralded the figure, saying it confirmed the success of Medicare Part D plans in delivering savings.

July 22, 2011

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced Thursday that it has submitted comments to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging outlining the value of the pharmacist-patient interaction in helping improve health and reduce costs in the Medicare program, and urged the committee to support the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which seeks to increase access to pharmacy services for Medicare beneficiaries.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced Thursday that it has submitted comments to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging outlining the value of the pharmacist-patient interaction in helping improve health and reduce costs in the Medicare program, and urged the committee to support the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2011, which seeks to increase access to pharmacy services for Medicare beneficiaries.

May 25, 2011

The Healthcare Distribution Management Association on Wednesday honored Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, with its Rx Safety and Healthcare Leadership Award.

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Healthcare Distribution Management Association on Wednesday honored Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, with its Rx Safety and Healthcare Leadership Award.

The award recognizes public officials for their leadership and commitment to public policies that support and promote the safe and efficient delivery of life-saving medicines to patients nationwide.

May 24, 2011

Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., on Monday introduced legislation that would exempt community pharmacies with less than 10 locations from having to participate in Medicare competitive acquisition programs and pricing when it comes to the sale of blood-glucose meters and supplies.

WASHINGTON — Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., on Monday introduced legislation that would exempt community pharmacies with less than 10 locations from having to participate in Medicare competitive acquisition programs and pricing when it comes to the sale of blood-glucose meters and supplies.

May 19, 2011

Despite the promise of oral drugs for treating cancer, high costs and the burden of taking multiple medications drive 10% of patients prescribed the drugs not to fill their initial prescriptions, according to a new study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice and the American Journal of Managed Care.

WASHINGTON — Despite the promise of oral drugs for treating cancer, high costs and the burden of taking multiple medications drive 10% of patients prescribed the drugs not to fill their initial prescriptions, according to a new study published in the Journal of Oncology Practice and the American Journal of Managed Care.

March 29, 2011

Raising Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67 years in 2014 would generate an estimated $7.6 billion in net savings to the federal government, but also would result in an estimated net increase of $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, as well as $4.5 billion in employer retiree healthcare costs, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation projection of the potential change suggested by several deficit-reduction plans.

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Raising Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67 years in 2014 would generate an estimated $7.6 billion in net savings to the federal government, but also would result in an estimated net increase of $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs for 65- and 66-year-olds, as well as $4.5 billion in employer retiree healthcare costs, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation projection of the potential change suggested by several deficit-reduction plans.