Chains Seek Clarity in Medicare Rx Drug Rules

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Federal Medicare officials responsiblefor hammering out regulations forthe new Part D outpatient drug programfor seniors should resist pressureto force the elderly to obtain prescriptionsby mail rather than from theircommunity pharmacy, the NationalAssociation of Chain Drug Stores(NACDS) stated in comments on theproposed rules.

Those rules, being drafted by theCenters for Medicare and MedicaidServices (CMS), will serve as a frameworkfor the new prescription benefitprogram that is scheduled to go intoeffect in 2006.

"We intend to work closely withCMS to make certain that the vitalrelationship between a patient andpharmacist is maintained once theseregulations go into effect," the chaindrug group stated. "NACDS memberswant to make sure Medicare beneficiariescan continue to receive high-qualitycare from their trusted neighborhoodpharmacists."

NACDS also urged Medicare officialsto provide more regulatory clarityconcerning the new "medication therapymanagement" program that willbe a key part of the senior drug benefit.The requirement for medication therapymanagement services is designed toimprove the quality of care forMedicare beneficiaries who take multiplechronic medications or have highdrug spending, and pharmacists areexpected to play a key role in providingthose services to seniors.

Among other points, NACDS askedthe agency to establish consistent criteriafor providers of medication therapy managementservices, and to set minimumpayment levels for pharmacists who offerthese services to Medicare patients.