ALEXANDRIA, Va. Responding to a Wall Street Journal report on the Medicare Improvements bill—which, although it passed through the House, remains stuck in the Senate—National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson decried the conspicuous absence of any coverage of the considerable pharmacy issues addressed in the legislation, which The Journal referred to collectively as “a package of other tweaks,” in its report.
“The Medicare payment formula for doctors has been the marquee item in this legislation,” said Anderson. “But this is just one of many measures that will help preserve patient access to valuable healthcare services.”
Some of the key measures left out of the article, “Clash on Preventing Cut to Doctor Payments Centers on How to Pay for Medicare Bill,” were Medicaid cuts to pharmacy reimbursements, the assurance of prompt payment of Medicare pharmacy claims, the encouragement of e-prescribing and the protection of patient access to diabetic supplies.
In his letter, Anderson made specific reference to the issue of the decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to use the average manufacturer price, or AMP, to determine pharmacy reimbursements. The letter states that the bill “will block devastating cuts to pharmacies under Medicaid. Without this ‘tweak,’ reimbursements for filling generic prescriptions will drop to 36 percent below pharmacies’ costs, on average. These cuts could result in the closure of 11,000 pharmacies across the country, the loss of 300,000 jobs and a reduction of $31 billion in economic activity. Millions of Americans are at risk of losing access to prescription medicines and pharmacy services, especially in rural and inner-city areas with high Medicaid populations.”
As reported last month by Drug Store News, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill by a vote of 355-59 in late June, but a few days later, the Senate failed to reach cloture by two votes, 58-40.
This isn’t the first time that NACDS has answered back to an unfavorable article in the media. In late September, the association attacked The New York Times for misrepresenting the role of chain pharmacies in the prevention of harmful drug interactions in an article titled “The ‘Poisonous Cocktail’ of Multiple Drugs.”