PART D PAYMENT SLOWDOWNS PUSH PHARMACIES TO THE BRINK

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

One third of the community pharmacistsresponding to a recent survey saidthe financial burdens created by slow-footedreimbursements for MedicarePart D prescriptions have grown so seriousthat they have considered closingtheir pharmacies altogether.

The study, conducted by the NationalCommunity Pharmacists Association(NCPA), found that an even greater proportionof pharmacies are encounteringserious cash-flow problems due to Part Dreimbursement delays by pharmacy benefitmanagers. Of the 500 communitypharmacists surveyed, 89% said thattheir overall cash flow was worse nowthan before the Part D program started.Over half (55%) of the pharmacists saidthey have had to obtain outside loans tosupplement their pharmacy's cash flowbecause of slow reimbursement byhealth care plans, and 1 in 4 said theyhave had to borrow $100,000 or more tostay afloat.

"Pharmacists are doing everythingthey can to make the Medicare Part Dprogram work," said NCPA ExecutiveVice President and Chief ExecutiveOfficer Bruce Roberts, RPh. "However,low and slow reimbursement from theprescription drug plans continues tothreaten the very existence of far toomany of this nation's community pharmacies." The solution, according toRoberts, may involve technology. "Thereis no reason why these claims can't bepaid faster and by electronic fund transfers," he said. "Community pharmacistsare basically bankrolling this program,and that was never the intention ofCongress." For a related story onMedicare Part D's financial effect onpharmacists, visit ePharmacy Times athttp://www.pharmacytimes.com/articleNewsletter.cfm?ID=3818.