Pharmacy Groups Push for Extension of Medicaid Funding

Five pharmacy associations are pushing Congress to pass a 6-month extension of the temporary enhancement of the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), which provides funding for state Medicaid and other health programs.

Enacted in 2009, the additional assistance is slated to expire at the end of 2010. In a joint letter to bipartisan Senate leadership, the groups wrote that removing the source of funding would place an undue burden the growing number of patients who rely on Medicaid for access to healthcare and pharmacy services.

“While the US economy has shown positive signs of recovering, state finances are expected to continue to suffer at least two more years, with state budget deficits approaching $180 billion. Therefore, continued federal assistance to states at this time is critical,” the letter read.

The groups also stressed the potential economic effects of diminished access to prescriptions and pharmacist services that would likely result. “These actions will create a further drag on the economy and may result in additional job loss,” they wrote.

A release issued by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) cited a study by the New England Healthcare Institute, which found that nonadherence and other medication problems account for $290 billion in annual health care costs in the form of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and other types of preventable urgent care.

Reducing funding for Medicaid, the association said, leaves the US health care system open to costs that could be otherwise avoided through preventive treatment and management of chronic conditions.

Representing a united front on behalf of the pharmacy industry, the letter was signed by the American Pharmacists Association, Food Marketing Institute, NACDS, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, and National Community Pharmacists Associations and addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D,NV), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D, MT) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R,IA).

The original letter is available for review here.