Battle Lost, But Will Pharmacy Win the War on Medicaid Reimbursements?

Pharmacy Times
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A coalition of state and nationalpharmacy groups, led by the NationalAssociation of Chain Drug Stores(NACDS) and the National CommunityPharmacists Association (NCPA),this fall called on members of the professionto "fight proposed Medicaidcuts that would hurt poor patients andthe community pharmacies that servethem."

Nevertheless, on November 18, theHouse of Representatives passed theDeficit Reduction Act of 2005 (HR4241) on a 217-215 roll call. The billincludes $2.1 billion in Medicaid pharmacyreimbursement cuts (down fromthe $5.2 billion originally proposed).Deep reductions also have beenapproved by the Senate. Differencesbetween the 2 versions now must benegotiated in a joint House-Senate conferencecommittee.

Bruce Roberts, RPh, NCPA's executivevice president and chief executiveofficer (CEO), had stated prior to theHouse vote, "Community pharmacistsare in a unique position to help drivedown Medicaid prescription drug costs,while at the same time maintainingthe health care safety net on which somany people depend. Instead, pharmacyis being targeted for a disproportionatepercentage of the proposedbudget cuts." Calling the pendingMedicare reform legislation an "ill-advisedproposal," Roberts warned thatif this legislation is enacted, it "willforce community pharmacy out of theMedicaid business."

NACDS President and CEO CraigFuller had voiced similar concerns."The only way the private sector canprovide medication through Medicaidis to be fairly reimbursed for the cost ofthe products and the professional servicespharmacists provide," he said.

Following the vote, Fuller explained,"Our concerns about the MedicaidReform proposal remain. Evenwith the concept of a ‘safety valve,'webelieve there is much work to be doneto achieve a Medicaid program thatcan actually work."

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.

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