While President Bush was suggestingthat pharmacists may be "overcharging" forprescription drugs, his top official at theDepartment of Health and Human Services(HHS) was praising the profession for itsassistance in getting the new MedicarePart D drug program through its problemplaguedlaunch.
"The efforts of pharmacists over the lastmonth have been nothing short of heroic,"HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt said in aprogress report on the first 30 days of thenew prescription benefit for the elderly."I've visited with and heard from pharmacistsall over the country," and "they havebeen selfless, compassionate, and committedto service," he said.
Leavitt cited examples of communitypharmacists "who provided 3- to 5-daysupplies of medicines to beneficiaries withoutpayment—and often no expectation ofone—until things could be straightenedout" with the new Rx program.
The HHS secretary acknowledged theefforts of Alabama pharmacist DannyCottrell, who single-handedly "enrolledabout 1400 of the people he serves intoa prescription drug plan that was rightfor them."
Noting that many of the nation's "heroic"pharmacists are concerned about the paymentterms negotiated with health plansthat enroll Part D patients, Leavitt promisedthat the HHS would monitor this situation.
"Pharmacists should expect to be paid inaccordance with their plan contracts," hesaid. "I can—and will—take correctiveaction if a plan is not in compliance."