In Letter to Obama, NCPA CEO Proposes Solutions for Health Reform

Laura Enderle, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Friday, February 19, 2010
In advance of the upcoming summit on health care reform, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) reiterated yesterday its position on several key issues that directly impact the nation’s independent pharmacies.

A letter to President Barack Obama, penned by the organization’s executive vice president and CEO, Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, outlined 4 proposals for implementing fiscally and socially responsible reform. According to the NCPA, these strategies would substantially reduce costs and improve quality of care.

1. Reform Medicaid reimbursement. Roberts called for a minimum reimbursement of 175% of the weighted Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) for generic prescription drugs. Improvements to the current reimbursement system could make or break independent pharmacies, which rely more heavily on prescription sales and serve a higher percentage of Medicaid patients than most national chains.

2. Improve transparency. “Self-serving” and “the last bastion of unregulated entities in the health insurance marketplace” were words Roberts used to describe pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). He is a strong advocate of increased transparency for PBMs, and believes it can empower plan sponsors and enrollees and, ultimately, lower drug costs.

3. Expand pharmacists’ role. Roberts' letter reaffirmed the NCPA's prior position supporting the expansion of pharmacy services through medication therapy management (MTM). He highlighted adherence, medication errors, and chronic disease management as areas in which pharmacists can, and should, play a key role going forward.

4. Eliminate proposed coverage mandates. Rather than impose restrictive health insurance mandates on independent pharmacies and other small businesses, Roberts suggests that the government offer incentives in the form of more robust tax credits. Mandates, he warns, could lead to layoffs and closures for many small independent pharmacies, limiting crucial access to prescriptions in traditionally underserved areas.

To view the full text of the letter, click here.

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