SIGIS updates Eligible Products List
SAN RAMON, Calif. The Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards announced Wednesday that the group is making significant changes to its Eligible Products List — a list of over-the-counter products eligible for reimbursement under flexible spending accounts — in response to IRS guidance issued earlier this month.
That guidance, issued by the IRS in Notice 2010-59 in response to changes made by the Affordable Care Act, requires a doctor’s prescription for the reimbursement of over-the-counter drug and medicines from health plans and tax-advantaged healthcare accounts.
Based on this IRS guidance, the SIGIS Eligible Products List committee completed a thorough review of the list and determined that just more than 15,000 items are impacted and will need to be removed. Even after this significant reduction, more than 27,000 OTC items remain on the list for purchase without a prescription and through a Health Care Debit Card at SIGIS-certified merchants without the need for further substantiation. Items that continue to be eligible without a prescription include such items as insulin, medical devices (crutches, blood sugar monitors, etc.), bandages, contact lens solution and denture bond.
Though the IRS rule goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, SIGIS is releasing a summary of the edits to help SIGIS members begin to prepare for this significant change, the group noted. The detailed SIGIS Eligible Products List will be published on Dec. 15. In the guidance, the IRS granted transitional relief for IIAS merchants, so that IIAS merchants will actually have until Jan. 15, 2011, to update their systems to be compliant with the new guidance.
The following categories have been removed from the Eligible Products List to prevent them from being purchased at an IIAS merchant without a prescription. Categories no longer eligible without a prescription include:
- Acid controllers;
- Allergy and sinus medicine;
- Antigas products;
- Anti-itch and insect bite products;
- Antiparasitic treatments;
- Baby rash ointments/creams;
- Cold sore remedies;
- Cough-cold and flu products;
- Digestive aids;
- Feminine antifungal/anti-itch products;
- Hemorrhoidal preps;
- Motion sickness products;
- Pain relievers;
- Respiratory treatments;
- Sleep aids and sedatives; and
- Stomach remedies.
SIGIS was formed to create a standard industry solution that could be both scaleable and broadly adoptable, while being consistent with IRS requirements. The group includes all stakeholders involved with the process, from pharmacy merchants through plan administrators.
Sanofi-Aventis, Paul and Mira Sorvino launch ‘Diabetes Co-Stars’ program
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. Sanofi-Aventis has tapped actors Paul and Mira Sorvino to launch an awareness program aimed to help people living with diabetes and those who support them.
The "Diabetes Co-Stars" program provides family and friends of diabetics with advice on lifestyle choices, healthy cooking, promoting physical activity and treatment options including insulin, Sanofi-Aventis said. DiabetesCoStars.com provides links to the Sanofi-Aventis diabetes social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter.
The website also provides a look into Paul Sorvino’s life with Type 2 diabetes and how he manages his condition. Sorvino was diagnosed in 2006 with the condition, and at the direction of his doctor, he began taking prescription oral diabetes medications, including Sanofi-Aventis’ diabetes drug Lantus. While treatment and lifestyle changes continue to help Sorvino on his diabetes journey, having support from his daughter, Mira, also has helped Sorvino to make the right decisions.
"’Diabetes Co-Stars’ will help inspire people to find support for their diabetes journey," Sorvino said. "After my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, I was completely overwhelmed. I realized the importance of learning how to manage the condition, and that I don’t have to do it alone. I also worked with my doctor to discuss lifestyle changes and to find a treatment plan that works for me."
NCPA to HHS: Pharmacists are allies in health-reform shift to preventive care
ALEXANDRIA, Va. The reformed U.S. healthcare system could unleash a surge in patient demand for preventive care services, and community pharmacists should be part of any plan to meet that demand, the independent pharmacy lobby told Obama administration health officials.
That message came from the National Community Pharmacists Association in comments recently submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services. The group urged the officials implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to make full use of community pharmacists in the nation’s increasing reliance on preventive care — particularly if the health-reform law encourages patients to take advantage of low-cost health-and-wellness services provided through federally funded programs.
The NCPA weighed in after HHS issued a proposed interim final rule on the implementation of the massive health-reform act. The agency is recommending that participating health plans and insurers waive patient co-pays for certain recommended preventive services and vaccines.
“Examples of preventative services commonly available at community pharmacies include blood pressure and cholesterol screening, tobacco cessation and obesity-related counseling and intervention,” the NCPA noted. “The HHS requirement would apply to private, nongrandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage through the health insurance exchanges scheduled to take effect in 2014.”
The independent pharmacy group is asking HHS to make two adjustments to its proposed rule. One, the NCPA told the agency, is to “modify the rule to allow patients to receive certain preventative services from any qualified provider [including community pharmacies] without incurring a co-payment.” The group also urged HHS to “actively promote a more collaborative approach to healthcare services by encouraging health plans to enlist the services of allied healthcare providers, such as pharmacists, to help provide community-based preventative care services to plan enrollees.”
An initial investment in preventative care services, the NCPA noted in its comments, “can reap many downstream benefits, including demonstrable improvement in patient care outcomes, a reduction in hospital re-admissions and ultimately savings due to lower healthcare costs.”
“Just as the practice of medicine has undergone a change in focus from treatment of disease states to preventative care, pharmacy has gone from an emphasis on medication dispensing to one of effective medication use and achieving optimal patient outcomes,” the group told HHS officials.