NACDS Bears Witness Before House Committee-July 2009

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) took a stand on Capitol Hill to ensure that pharmacy is acknowledged as “the face of neighborhood health care” in any reform legislation being considered. Testimony given June 24 by NACDS Vice President of Federal Government Affairs Paul Kelly before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health highlighted the contributions of pharmacy to health care.

Kelly emphasized the importance of medication adherence, telling of the impact it has on patient health, along with the cost when it is lacking. “Nonadherence has been estimated to cost $177 billion annually,” said Kelly.

Medicaid reimbursement was another issue addressed. Access to pharmacy could be threatened if Congress does not act to change the way pharmacies are reimbursed for Medicaid prescriptions, Kelly told the subcommittee.

“The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 would set pharmacy reimbursement for some generics at 36% below cost,” said Kelly. “While aspects of this issue are complex, it comes down to a basic principle of economics. This is unworkable for pharmacies, as it would be for any provider or business. This is an issue of practical ability to provide patient care. Unless Congress intervenes, current policies would put 20% of pharmacies at risk, most of which serve low-income individuals.”

While acknowledging the support of Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Nathan Deal (R-GA) along with other members of the subcommittee on the matter, as well as provisions included in the House Health Reform Discussion Draft, Kelly still made clear the critical nature of a number of reforms advocated by NACDS.

Kelly went on to push for enhanced medication therapy management (MTM) in Medicare Part D. “Pharmacist-provided MTM services were shown in one study to reduce overall health care costs by $12 for every $1 invested in MTM,” said Kelly.

In addition, he stated the magnitude of ensuring access to diabetes management tools through pharmacies. Patient health and access could be placed in peril due to the misapplication of rules associated with the treatment of durable medical equipment in the Medicare program.

The testimony was a follow-up to NACDS’ RxIMPACT Day June 17, which brought members of the group to Washington to communicate their goals to lawmakers. NACDS has plans to continue its push for pro-pharmacy and pro-patient policies in health care reform.

For other articles in this issue, see:

Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Gets Specialty Designation

Washington State Pharmacies, Feds Join to Fight Rx Robberies

Closing the Gap: Groups Unite to Fill Medicare Doughnut Hole