NCPA Reacts to Medicare Announcement on Part D Proposed Rule
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Mar. 10, 2014) — National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA issued the following statement today in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) decision to postpone implementation of key parts of a proposed regulation for Part D prescription drug plans:
“We are deeply disappointed in CMS’ decision not to move forward at this time with the pharmacy choice provision included in its proposed rule. CMS has heard repeatedly from community pharmacists and patients regarding the inadequacies of ‘preferred pharmacy’ drug plans. They have been deceptively marketed and are confusing to patients.
“In many rural communities, independent community pharmacies are the only pharmacy provider and they are often excluded from preferred pharmacy arrangements — financially penalizing these seniors or forcing them to travel 20 miles or more to reach a preferred pharmacy. In addition, many underserved populations rely on the personalized service of independent pharmacies and going to a ‘preferred’ pharmacy is a burden.
“Of course, concerns surrounding the ‘any willing provider’ issue are not going away. CMS has a legal obligation to uphold the Social Security Act and CMS itself acknowledged that preferred pharmacy plans often raise costs to Medicare and the taxpayer, which is a violation of that statute. We implore CMS to revisit this topic in the near future.
“We encourage CMS to move forward with other key provisions in the rule, including expanding medication therapy management (MTM) eligibility; giving more seniors the same co-pay, in certain instances, whether they use a community pharmacy or mail order; allowing CMS to require plan sponsors to hire independent auditors; banning reimbursement practices that penalize long-term care pharmacies for adopting cost-efficient dispensing practices; and protecting seniors by establishing fulfillment requirements for mail order pharmacies, in response to a litany of complaints.
“NCPA and its members will continue to work constructively with federal and state policymakers regarding these issues.”