Pharmacy Groups File Brief in U.S. Supreme Court on Right of Pharmacies to Challenge Medicaid Cuts

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APhA, NACDS, NASPA, NCPA File U.S. Supreme Court Legal Brief Challenging Reimbursement Rate Reduction for Medicaid Beneficiaries

Alexandria, Va. - August 5, 2011 -

Pharmacy groups filed a legal brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the right of pharmacies to challenge Medicaid cuts that violate a federal patient access law. The brief was filed by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) in the case of Douglas v. Independent Living Center of California.

The initial lawsuit—filed by pharmacies and other healthcare providers—argues that a 10 percent Medicaid reimbursement cut in California violates the federal patient access law which provides that Medicaid reimbursement rates must be "sufficient to enlist enough providers so that care and services are available under the plan at least to the extent that such care and services are available to the general population in the geographic area..." The proposed cuts would threaten access to care for Medicaid patients.

Today's joint legal brief filed by the four pharmacy groups further argues that a long line of Supreme Court decisions support the right to challenge state actions that are inconsistent with federal laws, and challenges to inadequate Medicaid reimbursement rates must be allowed if they threaten patient access to pharmacy care.

"APhA is pleased to join with our colleague pharmacy organizations in challenging the actions of states that threaten to deprive patients of access to medications and pharmacists services that they desperately need," said Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD, Executive Vice President and CEO. "While we recognize the budget constraints that states face, these proposed Medicaid cuts will exacerbate our medication use crisis by forcing more pharmacies out of Medicaid and disrupting patient/pharmacist relationships that are critical to effective medication use. The data show that poor medication use leads to higher costs in the form of Emergency Department visits and hospitalizations."

"Patients rely on their local pharmacists for expert medication counseling and advice on controlling healthcare costs, such as through the appropriate use of generic drugs," said NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "Independent community pharmacists in particular are often located in underserved rural and urban areas where there may be few, if any, other pharmacy options. These cuts clearly jeopardize pharmacy access for underserved patients and could ultimately increase costs."

"We are deeply troubled about the impact that such a drastic cut in Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement will have on patient access to pharmacy care," said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE. "This short-sighted proposal is not the solution to cutting spending and reducing costs. We have and will continue to urge the state to work with pharmacy and other provider groups to find cost-effective alternatives that do not jeopardize Medicaid beneficiaries' access to healthcare services."

"We share our colleagues' deep concern with Medicaid cuts that will dramatically impact patient access," said NASPA Executive Vice President and CEO Rebecca Snead, RPh. "Arbitrarily implementing reductions in Medicaid reimbursement without consideration of federal law, is a disservice to its beneficiaries who rely and depend on these services. Ultimately, these drastic cuts will put their health and lives at risk."

The Supreme Court will hold a hearing in the case on October 3, and may issue a decision later this year.

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The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 C6 organization, representing more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets, and mass merchants with pharmacies – from regional chains with four stores to national companies. Chains operate 39,000 pharmacies, and employ more than 2.7 million employees, including 118,000 full-time pharmacists. They fill nearly 2.6 billion prescriptions annually, which is more than 72 percent of annual prescriptions in the United States. The total economic impact of all retail stores with pharmacies transcends their $830 billion in annual sales. Every $1 spent in these stores creates a ripple effect of $1.96 in other industries, for a total economic impact of $1.57 trillion, equal to 11 percent of GDP. NACDS represents 137 chains that operate these pharmacies in neighborhoods across America, and NACDS members also include more than 900 pharmacy and consumer packaged goods suppliers and service providers, and over 60 international members from 23 countries. For more information about NACDS, visit www.NACDS.org.

The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) promotes leadership, sharing, learning, and policy exchange among state pharmacy associations and pharmacy leaders nationwide, and provides education and advocacy to support pharmacists, patients, and communities working together to improve public health. NASPA was founded in 1927 as the National Council of State Pharmacy Association Executives (NCSPAE).

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, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% 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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