Sens. Conrad, Snowe raise bipartisan concerns over draft lists of Medicaid drug FULs
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In a bipartisan effort, Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, along with 12 of their colleagues, have expressed concerns with draft Federal Upper Limits lists for Medicaid generic drug reimbursement that recently have been published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association commended the Senators for the effort.
"In publishing three draft lists of Medicaid drug FULs, CMS has provided states with a potential unofficial standard for setting state maximum allowable costs. Specifically, pharmacists believe that if states were to implement MACs based on the CMS’s draft FUL lists, pharmacies could see reduced reimbursement for selected generic drugs in the range of 30% to 60% of acquisition costs. Cuts of this magnitude could create a disincentive to dispense generic drugs, which is exactly the opposite of what we should be trying to achieve as we seek to control healthcare costs," the senators wrote in a letter to CMS. Fourteen senators signed the letter to CMS.
NACDS and NCPA also have expressed concern with the draft FUL lists in written comments to CMS. “We are pleased that our arguments have been given further credibility by a large, bipartisan group of senators,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson and NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey. “We want to especially thank senators Conrad and Snowe for their leadership on this important issue.”
In addition to urging CMS to cease publication of draft FUL lists until a final AMP rule is in place, the Senators also urged the agency to be mindful of comprehensive pharmacy reimbursement. “When setting pharmacy reimbursement rates, it is important that both components of reimbursement — product cost and cost to dispense — be taken into consideration to ensure pharmacies are adequately paid,” the senators wrote.
Last month, a similar bipartisan letter was sent to CMS by 40 U.S. representatives raising concerns over the flawed Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement process.
CVS Caremark’s Helena Foulkes outlines integrated pharmacy-based program at forum
WASHINGTON — CVS Caremark’s chief healthcare strategy officer on Tuesday outlined how the company’s integrated pharmacy-based program for such chronic diseases as diabetes, called Pharmacy Advisor, increased medication adherence rates and physician initiation of prescriptions for concomitant medications to improve patient health.
At a forum sponsored by Health Affairs, Helena Foulkes, EVP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer, presented findings from a new CVS Caremark study that reviewed how Pharmacy Advisor, through targeted outreach and patient counseling, improved plan member health outcomes while working to reduce healthcare costs.
"This study highlights the central role pharmacists play in improving the health of their patients and how our programs leverage that expertise as we reinvent pharmacy care," Foulkes said. "The program featured counseling by pharmacists at retail stores and a dedicated pharmacist call center for those identified as having diabetes. The pharmacist interventions resulted in increased patient adherence and encouraged higher initiation rates of medications needed to best treat diabetes. The results show we are helping people on their path to better health."
Presentations at the event discussed studies published in the January issue of Health Affairs that focused on treatment and healthcare programs for people with diabetes. As previously reported by Drug Store News, the Health Affairs January issue included a CVS Caremark study that outlined findings from an analysis of the pharmacy claims data of benefit members at a large Midwest manufacturing company that focused on interventions with diabetic patients between October 2009 and April 2010.
The study followed medication behavior of an intervention group of 5,123 people with diabetes who were proactively counseled by retail and call center pharmacists; and a control group of 24,124 patients with diabetes who did not receive specialized counseling. The researchers measured gains in patient adherence and medication initiation rates of concomitant therapies for diabetes, such as statins, ACE inhibitors and ARBs.
Researchers from CVS Caremark, assisted by experts from Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, illustrated that contacts by pharmacists with the patients and their doctors increased therapy initiation rates by as much as 39% for the full sample, and an even higher 68% for the group counseled at retail stores, and increased medication adherence rates by 2.1%. The researchers noted that face-to-face interventions by retail store pharmacists resulted in increasing adherence rates by 3.9%.
Shopko launches pharmacy smartphone app
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Mass merchandise chain Shopko has launched a new mobile application for pharmacy customers, the chain said Tuesday.
Fresh off the heals of its merger with Pamida, Shopko announced the launch of an app for Blackberry, Android and iPhone users that will allow customers to refill and manage their pharmacy prescriptions.
Customers using the app can request refills, review active prescription details — including expiration dates, refills remaining and overdue refills — set up dosage reminders and receive email and text notifications when a refill is ready. It also includes a pharmacy locator that allows customers to locate and get driving directions to a pharmacy while checking hours of operation.
"We are always exploring new ways to improve customer service and make our pharmacy services more convenient, and this app makes finding our stores and filling prescriptions on their mobile devices quick and easy for our customers," Shopko president, chairman and CEO Paul Jones said. "This app is in direct response to consumer demand, and we’ve worked hard to develop the features most important to our customers. This will be a convenient and simple new way to access our award-winning pharmacy services."