Alexandria, Va. - Sept. 27, 2012
Pennsylvania consumers would gain a greater ability to go to a local community pharmacy instead of being required or coerced into using out-of-state mail order facilities for their prescriptions under S.B. 201, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). This legislation takes important steps towards leveling the playing field between large pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and local community pharmacies, small businesses which are vital to the Commonwealth's Main Street economy.
S.B. 201 would allow independent community pharmacies and other pharmacy providers to match the reimbursement terms and conditions that mail order pharmacies, typically owned by PBMs, negotiate exclusively with health insurance plans. Research shows that four out of five patients prefer to use a community pharmacy instead of mail order. But many health plans either require patients to use mail order or subsidize the use of mail order pharmacies, in the form of discounted patient co-payments. S.B. 201 would allow local pharmacies to be part of such arrangements, thereby giving patients greater choice of pharmacy at the same net cost.
"S.B.201 will simply allow consumers to have the freedom of choice they deserve when choosing how to access their healthcare needs," NCPA said in a letter to Keystone State lawmakers. "It will allow citizens to gain the benefit of face-to-face interaction with their trusted community pharmacist if they choose to do so, instead of being forced to utilize an out-of-state mail order pharmacy."
Pennsylvania's 1,000 independent community pharmacies provide an estimated 10,600 jobs, indirectly support many more jobs and are an important source of state and local tax revenue. In addition, community pharmacies are often a vital part of the local fabric, sponsoring various charitable and civic causes. By contrast, prescriptions filled through out-of-state mail order facilities export health care dollars out of the Commonwealth at a time when it is dealing with an 8.1 percent unemployment rate and a tight tax revenue base.
Earlier today, the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Pharmacy Study was released. It found continued, high patient satisfaction with locally owned and independently operated pharmacies in terms of the prescription filling process, pharmacy personnel and cost competitiveness. Moreover, for the second consecutive year, the survey found that more patients disapproved of the job performance of mail order pharmacies than did the year before. Earlier this month, NCPA released an online video, entitled "Mail Order Madness," giving voice to many of the concerns with mail order that patients express to community pharmacists on a regular basis.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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