Arlington, Va. — In a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) urged lawmakers to examine commonsense, pro-patient, pro-pharmacy reforms in an effort to modernize the Medicare program for beneficiaries. NACDS submitted comments in response to a request from the committee for stakeholder reactions on bipartisan proposals on entitlement reform.
Citing medication therapy management (MTM), expanded coverage of vaccines in Part D and increasing utilization of generic drugs, NACDS provided specific examples of preventive approaches to improved patient health and cost-savings within the Medicare program.
“Through personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations and convenient access to preventive care services, local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow — in partnership with doctors, nurses and others,” NACDS said in its statement. “Pharmacists also provide vital patient care through services such as medication therapy management (MTM) and their expanded role in providing immunizations.”
Reports by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as a recent article in Health Affairs found that appropriate medication use can in fact improve health while lowering costs. These findings have helped increase recognition by lawmakers on the value of MTM, including bipartisan support for U.S. House and U.S. Senate bills, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013 (H.R. 1024 and S. 557, respectively). The House bill currently has 127 cosponsors and the Senate bill has 23 cosponsors.
In addition, encouraging Medicare patients and others to obtain vaccinations at their neighborhood pharmacy is a cost-effective and convenient way to help prevent illness and reduce healthcare costs. The Department of Defense cites cost-savings of nearly $1.5 million by expanding the portfolio of vaccines that TRICARE patients may obtain from community pharmacies. Currently all 50 states allow pharmacists to provide certain immunizations, and NACDS continues to work to expand vaccination opportunities for pharmacists.
In its statement, NACDS also emphasized the benefits of increased utilization of generic drugs and the ability for Medicare patients to choose where they wish to obtain their medications and pharmacy services. “Pharmacists have long promoted generic drugs as safe, cost-effective alternatives for many patients. Community pharmacy has a higher rate of generic dispensing — 73 percent – than any other practice setting,” NACDS said in its statement.
NACDS estimates that in the Medicaid program, for every one percent increase in generic utilization, approximately $809 million in federal and state dollars would be saved.
“Substituting generic pharmaceuticals for their brand-name equivalents is an effective way to achieve significant savings in public and private healthcare programs,” NACDS said in its statement.
“NACDS and the chain pharmacy industry are committed to partnering with Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, patients, and other healthcare providers to improve quality and affordability of the Medicare program,” NACDS said in its statement.