NCPA submits comments to CMS over wide range of issues
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Friday submitted written comments urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take action on a wide range of what NCPA characterizes as "anti-patient, anti-pharmacist practices," the association announced.
“Every day independent community pharmacists help seniors improve their health through the appropriate and safe use of prescription drugs," stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. "Local pharmacists also help Medicare keep costs down by preventing the need for costlier medical interventions and promoting the proper use of generic drugs. However, their work is undermined by practices such as abusive pharmacy audits and discriminatory plan designs,” he said. “NCPA and its members have notified CMS of these harmful practices repeatedly. We appreciate the recent acknowledgement by Medicare officials of these problems and we urge them to take decisive action to address them for 2014, if not sooner.”
NCPA’s comments touched on the following issues, among others:
- Rein in egregious pharmacy audits. "Community pharmacists support legitimate auditing practices to uncover true fraud waste and abuse, but it is wrong for PDP pharmacy benefit managers to hire auditors to find the slightest of pharmacy clerical errors so they can recoup the monies paid for a legitimate prescription claim and then turn around and not accurately report such gains to Medicare";
- Reform the practices of preferred pharmacy network plans. "NCPA remains concerned about preferred pharmacy networks and, like CMS, questions whether drug costs in such PDPs are in fact lower compared to costs in PDPs without preferred networks. NCPA asks CMS to further investigate these issues and to ban ‘pay-to-play’ arrangements whereby pharmacies must pay $1.00 (or more) per claim to participate among a plan’s ‘preferred’ pharmacies";
- Protect beneficiaries from deceptive mail order pharmacy tactics. "Medicare officials have repeatedly criticized inappropriate steering of patients against their will to mail order pharmacies under the guise of ‘prior authorization’ requirements, yet the practice continues. NCPA strongly encourages CMS to take further action and to stop these egregious practices once and for all, such as through adoption of a universal model prescription transfer letter";
- Preserve beneficiary access to compounded medications. "CMS should omit from the final call letter any prior authorization requirements for compounded medications. Such a mandate would represent a significant federal infringement onto medical practice and doctors’ prescription rights, and would decrease and delay beneficiaries’ access to care";
- More utilization of medication therapy management. "CMS is right to promote on the Plan Finder website and in the ‘Medicare & You’ handbook, the importance of MTM"; and
- Reduce wasteful spending generated by mail order pharmacies’ auto-shipping. "CMS should establish clear policies and parameters surrounding auto-ship refill programs. While requiring patient consent prior to the delivery of each refill or new prescription is a good start, beware of mail order facilities trying to undermine this requirement through blanket consent agreements."
NACDS touts MTM in response to CMS call letter
ARLINGTON, Va. — Every year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issues a “call letter” to lay out various policies and requirements for the coming program year within the Medicare program.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores on Friday issued guidance on the pharmacy provisions in the letter, issued for 2014, expressing support for the CMS’ efforts to increase awareness of medication therapy management services provided by community pharmacists, as well as appreciation for the successful launch of the Department of Health and Human Services Million Hearts Initiatives, which seeks to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
“Pharmacist-provided services such as medication therapy management (MTM) are an important tool in the fight to improve medication adherence and patient health and reduce healthcare spending,” the NACDS letter read. “Encouraging sponsors to provide more access to beneficiaries who fill one or more prescription for anti-hypertensive medications will lead to better health outcomes and reduce overall healthcare costs at the same time.”
The other side of the Albertsons pharmacy leadership story
Upon the closing of Supervalu’s sale of five pharmacy banners to Albertsons LLC, long-time Supervalu vet Dan Salemi will assume the role of president of pharmacy at the new Albertsons LLC. Salemi will succeed Supervalu president pharmacy operations Chris Dimos, who will stay on board until the deal is done.
Albertsons LLC gets a very talented pharmacy executive to run its pharmacy business, no doubt, in Dan Salemi. And with more than three decades working across Supervalu’s banners, he’s well-versed in the nuances of the Supervalu pharmacy business in each market.
But there’s another part of this story — one of the brightest, most talented pharmacy executives in the business is now up for grabs.
And he’s not just a pharmacy executive. In addition to headlining Supervalu’s pharmacy operations, Dimos managed many of the "nonperisable" categories sold through Supervalu’s doors, including health and beauty and general merchandise. And he helped bridge the pharmacy to the rest of the grocery fare through health-and-wellness initiatives.
That gives him a slightly different perspective than many pharmacy executives. Dimos can see what many can’t — that crossover between pharmacy and front-end and the role nutrition plays in all of it.
"We see Supervalu Pharmacies as the empowerment zone in our stores where people can come in and get the information they need to make informed food and pharmacy choices," he remarked during an interview with DSN. "We really want to be a resource — to meet the customer [on their terms], and be able to help them make educated decisions that are going to make them successful [in pursuit of a] healthier lifestyle."