April 21, 2013 (Palm Beach, Fla.) — Chain pharmacy has awakened from the “peaceful slumber” that disadvantaged the industry in its early days, and that inspired the 1933 creation of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). Yet confronting inconsistent government policies requires continued determination. That was the message of NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE today, as he detailed the work of NACDS to advance pharmacy patient care and to present programs valued by chains and suppliers alike.
Anderson delivered his remarks during a Business Program at the NACDS Annual Meeting — which brings together leaders of the industry from NACDS member companies with diverse responsibilities including pharmacy, the front-end of the store, the supply chain and beyond.
As NACDS celebrates its 80th Anniversary, Anderson read from a 1938 progress report delivered by then-NACDS Secretary F.J. Griffiths of Pennsylvania Drug Co., reflecting on the first five years of the Association.
“Until the last few years, no concerted effort of any kind had been made by the chains to find its place in the industry and function as it should when questions affecting the industry arose — I mean not only legislation, but questions of relationship between manufacturers and distributors,” Griffiths reported to the NACDS Executive Committee in 1938. “While we were slumbering peacefully, the other branches of the industry were actively supporting organizations – who were looking after the interests of their members.”
Anderson held up NACDS’ approach to the current rendition of healthcare reform as an example of living up to the NACDS founders’ vision for an aggressive and forward-thinking association.
“We didn’t engage in the political gamesmanship that surrounded the legislation, and we didn’t take a position on it as a whole,” Anderson said. “But we improved the law governing pharmacy Medicaid reimbursement, and advanced medication therapy management in Medicare, among other programs. Much of the importance of the healthcare reform debate lies in the opportunity it presented to educate those in power about what pharmacy and suppliers do together.”
Regarding increased awareness of pharmacy patient care, he noted that the Congressional Budget Office in late 2012 announced steps to reflect in its cost-evaluation of legislative proposals the belief that better use of medications can generate savings by reducing reliance on costly forms of care. If generalized to the nation as a whole, just a one-percent increase in medication use saves $1.7 billion in overall healthcare costs, or $5.76 per person.
He also noted that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in February 2013 released a study focused on Medicare beneficiaries with certain lung or heart conditions. Those enrolled in medication therapy management services in 2010 — and particularly those who received comprehensive medication reviews – experienced significant improvement in the quality of their drug regimens and costs were saved.
However, Anderson said counterproductive and contradictory government policies threaten the advancement of innovation and affordability in patient care. He noted that the Obama Administration’s FY2014 budget proposal, released on April 11, includes cuts to pharmacy Medicaid reimbursement that would undermine the current process of implementing the related provisions of the healthcare reform law.
“We are pointing out that any changes that jeopardize patient access to needed medications will increase and not decrease costs. We are telling them that government agencies have said as much, and why we need consistent policies for patient care,” he said.
“I have talked before about our all-branches and all-levels of government approach to advocacy. Now we must go deeper, beyond reaching every branch of government to reaching and convincing every bastion of government — each entrenched corner of the Congress, governmental departments and agencies that holds to its own beliefs, despite the existence of a better way,” he said.
Anderson said that addressing government policies that do not match up will help to assure continued progress on achieving the full potential of the NACDS membership.
Reflecting again on NACDS’ 80th Anniversary, Anderson concluded by saying, “I love history. It’s not just a musty recollection of actions that people did. It is a story about how people that preceded us set the stage for us to do our work to achieve great things. My friends, on this the 80th Anniversary of NACDS, I’m here to tell you that we are writing history and you are historic figures.”