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WASHINGTON — A recent survey commissioned on behalf of a pharmacy benefit manager trade group found a high degree of satisfaction among Medicare Part D beneficiaries with preferred pharmacy plans.
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association announced results of the survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, which found that 85% of seniors were satisfied with their plans and 80% would be disappointed if the plan were eliminated. Meanwhile, 81% expressed satisfaction with the convenience of pharmacies in their network, and nearly three-quarters were satisfied with the number of pharmacies. The survey, conducted earlier this month, included 400 Medicare Part D beneficiaries, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.
But the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group representing independent pharmacies, noted that the plans often exclude their members. Last week, more than a dozen senators wrote a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services director Marilyn Tavenner expressing concern about the exclusion of small and medium-sized pharmacies from preferred pharmacy networks and calling for more oversight over them. Exclusion from the networks meant that the pharmacies were unable to offer comparable costs for seniors to fill prescriptions, creating a risk of higher Medicare Part D costs in addition to diminished access for seniors in rural areas. In addition, 31 members of the House of Representatives wrote to CMS about similar concerns that Medicare beneficiaries and small business owners had expressed.
According to the NCPA, preferred networks become particularly problematic in rural areas, were seniors may have to travel 20 miles or more to get to pharmacies included in the networks.