NACDS letter urges quick signing of Medicare bill into law

7/10/2008

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Thursday sent a letter to urge President Bush to expedite the signing of H.R. 6331, commonly known as the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.

As reported by Drug Store News, the bill will postpone until Oct. 1, 2009, a plan by the Bush administration to cut Medicaid reimbursements for generic drugs via a formula based on the average manufacturer price. It will also require prescription drug plans to speed up payments for Medicare Part D drug claims from pharmacies, by imposing a 14-day reimbursement cycle; require weekly updates of posted Medicare prescription drug prices; and postpone the rollout of Round 1 of the new competitive bidding requirement for durable medical equipment under Medicare Part B.

“From the policy and political perspectives, this legislation has been the subject of vigorous and highly public debate,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson in the letter. “It now has been passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives and the Senate.” 

Though the bill was championed by many pharmacy advocacy groups, including NACDS, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the Food Marketing Institute and Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a number of senators were concerned about the aspects of the bill that addressed the Medicare reimbursement formula for doctors, who had faced a 10.6 percent pay cut. The White House had threatened a veto of the bill as the legislation offsets the cuts by instead reducing payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, a proposal totaling about $13.8 billion over five years.

The NACDS letter recognizes this concern, but urges the President to consider the bill as a whole. “Though the White House has indicated its objection to some provisions of the legislation, NACDS believes strongly that this legislation as a whole is necessary for the good of healthcare and for the good of the economy,” Anderson stated.

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