PHARMACY

NCPA, IPC forge closer working links

BY Jim Frederick

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis., and ALEXANDRIA, Va. The independent pharmacy industry’s top group-purchasing organization and its top lobbying and advocacy group on Monday announced plans to expand their collaboration in a bid to improve services to community pharmacists and their patients.

The new effort will forge stronger ties between the National Community Pharmacists Association and the Independent Pharmacy Cooperative. IPC, said both groups, now is the nation’s largest group purchasing organization for independent pharmacies, representing 3,300 primary and 3,000 affiliate pharmacy members whose purchases exceed $8 billion.

Under their agreement, leaders of IPC and NCPA unveiled plans to reach IPC members to generate new NCPA members and increase IPC’s support for programs like NCPA’s Legislative/Legal Defense Fund. “This, in turn, would allow NCPA to more broadly and effectively implement advocacy programs to better support IPC members and other community pharmacies,” the groups said Monday. IPC members who are NCPA members and already are contributing to the Legal Defense Fund will be urged to contribute to NCPA’s political action committee.

“IPC is proud to support the NCPA Legislative/Legal Defense Fund for the benefit of the IPC membership and community pharmacy nationwide,” said IPC president and CEO Don Anderson. “We know the IPC Government Affairs effort is making a significant impact. As the largest buying group for independent pharmacy and an industry leader, it is our continued mission to support legislative advocacy. Our partnership with NCPA allows us to collectively expand the influence for positive outcomes for patients and independent pharmacy.”

The pact marks one of the first developments to come out of the NCPA since Kathleen Jaeger took the organization’s helm as its new EVP and CEO on Nov. 1, following an eight-year stint as head of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. She hailed the agreement, noting, “with so much at stake in a dynamically changing healthcare and political environment, it’s critical for independent pharmacies to work together closely to ensure that our patients have access to excellent quality care and pharmacy services in their communities. We’re also hopeful that this growing partnership will produce more effective advocacy efforts and new business applications to ensure that the critical care independent pharmacies deliver to their patients and communities is maintained and strengthened in the years to come.”

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PHARMACY

NACDS brushes up new members of Congress on importance of community pharmacy to U.S. health care

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In a clear message to the newly elected lawmakers that pharmacies can be utilized even more effectively to help reduce healthcare costs and improve healthcare quality, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores sent a pharmacy briefing letter Friday to each of the new lawmakers.

 

“NACDS is highly engaged on issues that impact pharmacy and its patients. As the face of neighborhood healthcare, pharmacy is a convenient, accessible healthcare provider, with locations in every congressional district across the United States,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. 

 

In the letter, NACDS detailed ways in which “pharmacies are vital to healthcare delivery in the United States and can be utilized even more effectively to help reduce healthcare costs and improve healthcare quality.” The briefing letter invited the new members of Congress to tour pharmacies in their home states to get a firsthand look at the value of community pharmacy, and offered assistance through NACDS’ RxIMPACT program. It also included a copy of NACDS’ “Pharmacies: Improving Health, Reducing Costs,” which explains the role of pharmacy in greater detail.

“NACDS looks forward to working with the newly elected lawmakers in the 112th Congress to achieve pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies,” Anderson said.

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Affordable Care Act expected to deliver big savings to Medicare recipients

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON Under the Affordable Care Act, the average savings for those enrolled in traditional Medicare is expected to amount to more than $3,500 over the next 10 years — and will be even higher for seniors and people with diabetes who have high drug costs — according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

"The Affordable Care Act makes Medicare stronger and reduces the burden of healthcare costs on some of our most vulnerable citizens," stated HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "The law improves benefits for seniors and people with beneficiaries who rely on Medicare, and ensures that Medicare will be there for current and future generations by extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. These benefits and savings are only possible with the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act."

 

While the average savings is pegged at more than $3,500 over the next 10 years, the savings will be even higher — as much as $12,300 over the next 10 years — for seniors and people with disabilities who have high prescription drug costs.

The analysis, released by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, shows that the Affordable Care Act helps lower costs for those on Medicare by slowing the growth of cost-sharing in Medicare.

Closing the Part D coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole" will produce the greatest cost savings. Already, more than 1.8 million seniors and people with disabilities who have reached the doughnut hole in 2010 received a one-time $250 rebate check, and checks will continue to be distributed to those who enter the doughnut hole this year. Next year, people in the doughnut hole will receive 50% discounts on covered brand-name Part D prescription drugs. Also starting next year, seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare will have access to a number of recommended preventive services and annual wellness visits at no additional cost.

Although all seniors and people with disabilities in Medicare are likely to see savings, the savings will be greatest for those with costly medical conditions or high prescription drug costs. Total savings per beneficiary enrolled in traditional Medicare are estimated to be $86 in 2011, rising to $649 in 2020. For a beneficiary with spending in the doughnut hole, estimated savings increased from $553 in 2011 to $2,217 in 2020.

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