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Rite Aid underscores ways to save for BTS

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is gearing up for the back-to-school season as it again offers a dedicated value website that demonstrates the different ways customers can save at its stores.

SaveNow.RiteAid.com offers customers mail-in and online single check rebates, as well as Video Values, which allows customers to print coupons in exchange for watching product videos. In addition to the site, Rite Aid’s free customer rewards program, Wellness+, can save even more with big sale prices and an average of $100 a week through +UP Rewards, the retail pharmacy chain said.

According to a report released by the National Retail Federation, the NRF projects more than $83 billion will be spent during the 2012 back-to-school season with a notable increase this year in value-seeking shoppers.

"The NRF reports says it all — whether they’re bound for grade school or beyond, students and their parents are looking for value," Rite Aid SVP marketing John Learish said. "That’s why we’re offering so many ways to save on this year’s must-have supplies."

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Touro College of Pharmacy receives full accreditation

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A pharmacy graduate school in New York has received full accreditation.

Touro College announced Monday that the Touro College of Pharmacy, in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, has received full accreditation for its doctor of pharmacy program from the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education, which the Department of Education recognizes as the national agency for accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy. The college enrolled its first class in fall 2008, after receiving precandidate status from the ACPE and approval from the New York State Education Department.

"Achieving this prestigious national accreditation is a demanding and intense process and a tremendous accomplishment for the school, its leadership and the entire college community," Touro College president and CEO Alan Kadish said. "I commend Touro College of Pharmacy, which now is poised to become a national leader in the profession as it continues to fulfill its mission of improving the public’s health through educating a diverse student body to serve underrepresented communities and minimize health disparities."


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CMS meeting to cut rates for non-mail diabetes supplies draws industry criticism

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday hosted a public meeting to entertain a controversial payment adjustment — called "inherent reasonableness" — in reimbursing for non-mail-order diabetes supplies.

According to published reports, CMS’ authority to make payment adjustments was finalized in 2005 and can be invoked if existing reimbursements are deemed to be grossly excessive. The action comes out of the competitive bidding process for mail order, which resulted in prices more than two times lower than those for diabetic supplies sold at retail establishments.

"Although we recognize that there are pricing differences between mail-order and non-mail order diabetic testing supplies because of the delivery methods for these supplies, information about the prices of mail-order diabetic testing supplies can inform the analysis of prices for non-mail order diabetic testing supplies because several key cost components are identical for both, such as product acquisition costs and administrative costs, including claims processing and paperwork costs," the agency stated in the Federal Register in announcing the public meeting last month.

"Rather than phasing in non-mail-order diabetic testing supplies under the competitive bidding program at this time, we are considering an alternative for adjusting the payment amounts for non-mail-order diabetic testing supplies in the short term using information obtained from the local Round One Rebid competitions for mail-order supplies and other pricing information to establish special payment limits for non-mail-order diabetic testing supplies," the agency continued. "We believe that this alternative would allow beneficiaries the greatest degree of choice in deciding where to obtain their non-mail-order diabetic testing supplies as suppliers would not have to be awarded contracts to continue furnishing these items to Medicare beneficiaries."

“Community pharmacists are indispensable to helping combat diabetes, whether it is the counseling they offer, the medications they dispense, the lifestyle modification classes they provide or the wide variety of testing supplies they carry,” stated Bill Popomaronis, VP LTC/HHC/NIPCO for the National Community Pharmacists Association, during the meeting this morning. “However, that dynamic will be harmed if these small business pharmacies are forced to walk away from a pricing structure for diabetic testing supplies that only a large self-warehousing chain pharmacy or mail-order supplier can make work.” He warned the policy would produce financially unsustainable reimbursement cuts for independent community pharmacies.

The policy comes on the heels of other impediments to selling diabetes testing supplies under Medicare Part B, as CMS has proposed "burdensome and expensive requirements" while working with a secondary payer to receive slow reimbursements, Popomaronis added.

In his testimony, Popomaronis detailed the concerns that come with the “inherent reasonableness” standard, which, according to an NCPA press statement, include:

  • Reimbursement reductions that are financially unsustainable because small pharmacies cannot purchase the supplies in bulk like the large chains or mail-order suppliers;

  • A lack of evidence that the fee schedule is grossly excessive as compared with the cost to independent pharmacies to purchase these supplies;

  • The misguided notion by CMS that savings and success for diabetic patients necessarily means driving down per unit costs, which may be contrary to the integrated care models being promoted by healthcare systems in the public and private sector; and

  • A failure to acknowledge the money CMS wastes on mail-order diabetes testing supplies that are shipped, as demonstrated by the large amount of unused prescription drugs generated by mail-order supplies in the One Year Implementation Update to Round 1, and further confirmed by CMS’ own Jonathan Blum, who suggested the competitive bidding program decrease in utilization of mail-order diabetes testing supplies could lead one to infer that community pharmacies could serve patients better than mail order.


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