NCPA Responds to New White House Health Reform Proposal

Alexandria, Va. - February 22, 2010

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today commented on a new White House health care reform proposal. 

Last week, NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, sent a letter to President Barack Obama outlining policies to help community pharmacists produce better health outcomes at lower cost. In response to today's proposal, Roberts issued the following statement: 

"NCPA commends President Obama and Members of Congress in both parties for their commitment to improving our health care system. Today's proposal includes a number of provisions that benefit patients and are supported by community pharmacists. Other provisions, such as employer mandates and anti-fraud measures, should be carefully structured so as not to produce unintended consequences that undermine local pharmacists' ability to meet pressing health care needs. 

"We commend the President for including in his proposal a provision closing the coverage gap or 'donut hole' in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. We also welcome the proposal's ban on so-called 'pay-for-delay' settlements that delay the introduction of lower cost generic drugs into the market. 

"Pharmacists support reasonable efforts to effectively fight waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. But government officials should take care to avoid inadvertently restricting patients' access to legitimate health services as they pursue initiatives such as Medicaid Prescription Drug Profiling. The problematic pharmacy accreditation requirement in Medicare's durable medical equipment program is a prime example. 

"We applaud the proposal's inclusion of tax credits to help pharmacies and other small businesses provide health insurance to their employees. However, we remain concerned that any changes affecting employers should take into account that employer's unique mix of employee wage rates. The proposed rates might make some pharmacies ineligible for the credits. 

"NCPA appreciates that the President's proposal is offered as an addition to the Senate-passed health reform legislation. That bill includes a number of policies that community pharmacists support. Namely, an equitable fix to Medicaid's average manufacturer price reimbursement formula for generic drugs; an exemption for most community pharmacies from Medicare's onerous, costly accreditation requirements for sales of diabetes testing supplies and related goods; limited disclosure requirements for pharmacy benefit managers; and an expansion of medication therapy management programs. 

"NCPA looks forward to continued collaboration with both parties to advance policies that help community pharmacists help patients realize better health outcomes at lower cost." 

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

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