The Board of Directors of Community Care Rx recently announced its intent to begin a medication-management program in connection with its Medicare-approved prescription-discount card. The program is designed to illustrate the positive outcomes that can be achieved through direct interactions between patients and community pharmacists. The nonprofit organization was created by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).
The medication-management program, under which eligible beneficiaries will be invited to receive an annual medication review, has been in the planning stages for a while. The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), however, recently fast-tracked implementation in a response to an announcement in April 2004 that payment of a portion of Medicare beneficiaries' enrollment fees to pharmacists would likely violate the federal anti-kickback statute.
"Every community pharmacist respects both the OIG and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and our program takes great pride in our compliance efforts, including the establishment of a specific compliance officer," said Bruce Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer, speaking for the Community Care Rx board. "Our experts have concluded, as did others in the retail industry, that the valuable time of a pharmacist spent helping beneficiaries learn about the Medicare program, and, if applicable, helping them enroll in a program, was compensable."
Board members for Community Care Rx have asked NCPA to communicate more with OIG and, if possible, to work with the OIG to clarify an appropriate way to reasonably compensate pharmacists for their time and services provided. "The Community Care Rx Board has determined the money that was earmarked for pharmacists should be put in a special account pending the outcome of discussions with OIG," said Chuck Hallberg, president of Member-Health and a member of the board. "In the meantime, we will move forward with our planned medication-management program."