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NCPA, HHS collaborate on Medicare Part D enrollment

BY Michael Johnsen

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Monday announced a collaboration with members of the National Community Pharmacists Association designed to raise awareness around Medicare Part D open enrollment. 
 
“This partnership will help connect you all with the resources you need for open enrollment,” Burwell told attendees of the NCPA Annual Convention here Monday morning. “Each of you is on the frontline of care delivery, and that's why our partnership is so crucial. … Together, we can help more Americans access affordable, quality healthcare.”
 
The collaboration includes webinars and community events for the pharmacy community, a resource guide available through NCPA and access to navigators and assistors that can help Medicare patients select the plan that's right for them. To help NCPA members explore the new collaboration, HHS participated with the NCPA Annual Convention on the show floor. 
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New CVS Health Medicare plans feature $0 deductibles, lower premiums

BY Michael Johnsen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As part of the new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan options for 2016, CVS Health's SilverScript Insurance Company is providing Medicare beneficiaries a choice from two SilverScript plans that offer $0 deductibles, lower premiums than the 2015 SilverScript plans in many states and low co-pays for several frequently prescribed drugs. In addition, the 2016 SilverScript prescription drug insurance plans earned an overall 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in part for their high quality, clinical outcomes and customer service. 
 
"As part of our commitment to helping people on their path to better health, we simplified and consolidated our Medicare PDP offerings in 2016 to provide comprehensive and even more affordable coverage. In fact, our plan premiums are among the lowest offered among national Part D plans," said Mitch Betses, SVP Medicare Part D Services for CVS Health. "In addition, the recent 4-star rating awarded to us by CMS demonstrates the high level of value and quality of care our SilverScript plans offer, and we remain committed to supporting our members in delivering worry-free coverage as we continue our legacy as one of the first plans available when Medicare Part D began 10 years ago."  
 
SilverScript will provide two Part D plan options in 2016: SilverScript Choice and SilverScript Plus. SilverScript Choice offers comprehensive coverage with low premiums and co-pays, and SilverScript Plus provides additional coverage in the coverage gap (donut hole). The Plus plan is designed for people who take several medications on a regular basis and are likely to reach the coverage gap during the 2016 plan year. 
 
Both SilverScript PDPs offered in 2016 will feature a $0-deductible, low copays for many drugs and competitive premiums. SilverScript premiums in 30 states are lower than they were in 2015 with premiums in eight of those states below $20, and SilverScript Choice plans have the lowest PDP premium in four states. Additionally, in 2016, SilverScript is introducing a new formulary to keep co-pays low for some frequently prescribed drugs. 
 
Enrollment for the 2016 plan year begins on Oct. 15, 2015 and runs through Dec. 7, 2015. 
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Independents’ optimism ‘off the charts’ coming out of NCPA annual meeting

BY Michael Johnsen

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Following a week of meetings in the Washington, D.C. area, more than 3,000 independent pharmacists are about to head home to implement the learnings and shared best-practices they acquired from the National Community Pharmacists Association's 2015 Annual Convention here. 
 
"Optimism is off the charts high," commented Doug Hoey, CEO NCPA during a press conference with journalists Tuesday morning. "These are business owners who are resilient; they are entrepreneurial. Yes, the wish the environment was not so difficult, but they are doing everything they can to adjust."
 
There are many opportunities that independent pharmacists can realize, Hoey added. "For example, 5% of patients account for almost half of all the healthcare costs in the country," he said. "Our community pharmacies are well positioned to help manage and coordinate care for these patients that need more care." 
 
And independents are willing and able to identify and help mange the costs for those patients. According to NCPA, as many as 75% of independent pharmacists are currently offering medication synchronization and adherence services to their patients. 
 
Independents are also very much community focused — two out of every three independent pharmacists are involved with local organizations, like Boy Scouts or the local Parent Teacher Association. 
 
NCPA announced a number of legislative and marketplace focal points on making independent pharmacy a profitable business model. "Our members overwhelmingly share with us their frustrations about conditions in the marketplace that are making in increasingly difficult for them to compete," commented Brad Arthur, president-elect NCPA. "The economics of independent community pharmacy are under assault," he said, and NCPA as an organization is working tirelessly on both legislative and marketplace fixes to promote the success and profitability of independents. 
 
As the health consumer gravitates to more wellness-oriented producsts, there is an opportunity to continue to shift the independent's business from 92% prescriptions and more toward the sale of front-end products. "We're helping our folks see the value in that, helping them properly market and identify these products so they can be a solution in their marketplace for driving wellness," Arthur said. 
 
There are three "here and now" legislative initiatives around which NCPA is actively advocating, including first to create generic drug pricing transparency and timely updates, second, to create a level playing field with regard to narrow and restricted pharmacy networks and third to advocate provider status for pharmacists. 
 

 

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