OCTOBER 01, 2006

One third of the community pharmacists responding to a recent survey said the financial burdens created by slow-footed reimbursements for Medicare Part D prescriptions have grown so serious that they have considered closing their pharmacies altogether.

The study, conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), found that an even greater proportion of pharmacies are encountering serious cash-flow problems due to Part D reimbursement delays by pharmacy benefit managers. Of the 500 community pharmacists surveyed, 89% said that their overall cash flow was worse now than before the Part D program started. Over half (55%) of the pharmacists said they have had to obtain outside loans to supplement their pharmacy's cash flow because of slow reimbursement by health care plans, and 1 in 4 said they have had to borrow $100,000 or more to stay afloat.

"Pharmacists are doing everything they can to make the Medicare Part D program work," said NCPA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Roberts, RPh. "However, low and slow reimbursement from the prescription drug plans continues to threaten the very existence of far too many of this nation's community pharmacies." The solution, according to Roberts, may involve technology. "There is no reason why these claims can't be paid faster and by electronic fund transfers," he said. "Community pharmacists are basically bankrolling this program, and that was never the intention of Congress." For a related story on Medicare Part D's financial effect on pharmacists, visit ePharmacy Times at