Pharmacy Times

Chains Seek Clarity in Medicare Rx Drug Rules

Author: Ken Rankin

Federal Medicare officials responsible for hammering out regulations for the new Part D outpatient drug program for seniors should resist pressure to force the elderly to obtain prescriptions by mail rather than from their community pharmacy, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) stated in comments on the proposed rules.

Those rules, being drafted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will serve as a framework for the new prescription benefit program that is scheduled to go into effect in 2006.

"We intend to work closely with CMS to make certain that the vital relationship between a patient and pharmacist is maintained once these regulations go into effect," the chain drug group stated. "NACDS members want to make sure Medicare beneficiaries can continue to receive high-quality care from their trusted neighborhood pharmacists."

NACDS also urged Medicare officials to provide more regulatory clarity concerning the new "medication therapy management" program that will be a key part of the senior drug benefit. The requirement for medication therapy management services is designed to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries who take multiple chronic medications or have high drug spending, and pharmacists are expected to play a key role in providing those services to seniors.

Among other points, NACDS asked the agency to establish consistent criteria for providers of medication therapy management services, and to set minimum payment levels for pharmacists who offer these services to Medicare patients.