Coalition stresses more time for state implementation of AMP-based FULs
ARLINGTON, Va. — Emphasizing implementation challenges that could impact patient access to pharmacy services, a coalition is urging Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to allow a one-year transition period for states to fully implement the Medicaid average manufacturer’s price-based federal upper limits for prescription medications.
The American Pharmacists Association, Food Marketing Institute, Generic Pharmaceutical Association, Healthcare Distribution Management Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and the National Community Pharmacists Association signed the letter.
“Given CMS’ expectation that states adjust both the drug reimbursement and dispensing fees for Medicaid reimbursement by July 2014, we are concerned that many states are not ready to make such a quick transition,” the groups stated in the letter. “Therefore we are requesting that CMS allow states a transition period for implementation of the FULs and corresponding dispensing fee changes to be one year from the time the states have everything they need for implementation from CMS.”
In November 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced final publication of the National Average Drug Acquisition Costs and indicated that the final AMP-based FULs would be published in July 2014. CMS also stated that the final AMP rule would be released in May 2014. However, there are concerns that the final rule release date may be delayed. But CMS has maintained that the July 2014 publication of the final AMP-based FULs is a hard deadline and CMS expects immediate state implementation of those new FULs.
“While CMS may be ready to implement changes to the ingredient side of the formula immediately in July 2014, states face additional obstacles that hinder their ability to be so expedient. Most states require legislative or regulatory changes, have short legislative sessions this year that do not allow for Medicaid reimbursement changes, will have to do a cost-of-dispensing-fee study prior to implementing a dispensing fee change, and/or will have to file a State Plan Amendment to implement such a change,” the letter stated.
The groups that signed the letter have long-held that AMP is an inaccurate benchmark for pharmacy reimbursement, and there is no correlation between the weighted AMP and pharmacy acquisition costs.
In the letter, the organizations also cited a September 2013 letter by the National Association of Medicaid Directors to CMS requesting that CMS provide states with a transition period of up to one year for implementation of AMP-based FULs in order to protect access to pharmacy services for Medicaid beneficiaries.
“While we remain hopeful that CMS will utilize the rulemaking process to implement Medicaid pharmacy provisions in a manner that will ensure that pharmacies are not reimbursed below cost, we are still concerned with the flawed AMP-based methodology and CMS’ timeline for implementing the new AMP-based FULs,” the groups concluded in the letter.
Walgreens increases quarterly dividend by 14.5%
DEERFIELD, Ill. — The board of directors of Walgreens on Wednesday declared a regular quarterly dividend of 31.5 cents per share, a 14.5% increase over the year ago dividend.
The dividend is payable June 12, 2014, to shareholders of record May 21, 2014.
Walgreens has paid a dividend in 326 straight quarters (i.e., more than 81 years) and has raised its dividend for 38 consecutive years. Over the last five years, Walgreens annual dividend rate has increased from 45 cents per share to $1.26 per share, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of nearly 23%.
Dole grows line of chopped salads
MONTEREY, Calif. — Dole is bolstering its chopped salad line by adding two new All Natural Chopped Salad Kits, both of which combine blends of fresh greens and vegetables with natural toppings. Dole All Natural Chopped Sunflower Crunch Salad Kit and Dole All Natural Chopped Sesame Asian Salad Kit will be available starting today at supermarkets across the country.
The Sunflower Crunch Salad Kit provides a sweet and savory experience thanks to farmhouse-inspired ingredients and flavors like applewood-smoked bacon, sunflower seeds and Dole’s Sweet Onion and Citrus Dressing. Dole’s Sesame Asian Salad kit combines Asian ingredients and flavors, including garlic wontons, roasted sliced almonds and Dole’s Toasted Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette.
“The result is the broadest spectrum of flavorful, restaurant-caliber chopped salads that can’t be easily recreated at home,” Markus Eriksson, senior brand manager for Dole Fresh Vegetables, said of the latest additions. “And, consistent with the Dole Chopped promise, each delivers a unique combination of flavor, texture, color and crunch in every bite.”
The two new kits will join the three Dole Chopped Salad Kits that launched last year, which included Chipotle & Cheddar, BBQ Ranch and Bacon & Bleu. All kits are available for a suggested retail price of $3.99.