Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

A National Community Pharmacists Association(NCPA) survey revealed that serious problems stillexist with the new Medicare Part D drug benefit.Concerning the 5000 independent communitypharmacies polled, 93% of the respondents reported that their cash flowis worse than before the implementation of Part D.

Pharmacists need payment from insurance plans in order to pay their drugwholesalers, staff, and other expenses. Yet, the January 1 implementation,and in particular the inclusion of dual eligibles, has significantly hamperedpayment schedules. Medicaid used to reimburse pharmacists weekly, butMedicare Part D plans typically issue reimbursement checks only every 4weeks and prescription claims may delay pharmacy payments by weeks.

The Medicare Part D debacle has resulted in pharmacy owners takingextraordinary steps to remain open and to continue to provide health careto Medicare beneficiaries. The survey found that 28% of independent communitypharmacies have asked their wholesaler for help. The same percentagehas taken out a line of credit to pay for medication inventory andpayroll while waiting for the drug plans to issue reimbursement checks.

Furthermore, more than one third of the pharmacy respondentsexplained that, unless the Medicare Part D cash flow problem isaddressed, it may jeopardize the viability of their business.