/publications/issue/2005/2005-09/2005-09-9807

Chain Pharmacy Plans Medicare Rx Outreach

Author: Ken Rankin

A new outreach program supported by the chain drugstore industry will counsel Medicare beneficiaries to help them sift through their Rx coverage options when the new Medicare Part D prescription drug program takes effect on January 1, 2006.

The initiative is being implemented by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) in collaboration with technology services provider Informed Decisions. It is expected to be particularly valuable for dual-eligible beneficiaries whose prescription drug benefits will transition from Medicaid to Medicare.

Under the new Beneficiary Centered Enrollment (BCE) program, these dual-eligible patients will be able to "turn to their retail pharmacist, who is available without an appointment and understands their medication needs, to help them with their plan decisions," NACDS President Craig Fuller said.

The BCE program will access historical drug utilization data and compare the benefits offered by the plans with the medications and pharmacies currently used by dual-eligible beneficiaries, chain drug officials explained. A personalized "scorecard," including an alphabetical list of plans and how each matches up with individual needs, will be generated and mailed to beneficiaries, providing valuable information to aid in final plan selection.

In addition, community pharmacists will be able to access the BCE Web site to assist beneficiaries with the reenrollment process and to provide counseling on plans at the point of care, NACDS officials said.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.