Inside This Issue - News
NACDS becomes Ďassociation that knows how to winí
February 28th, 2011
NAPLES, Fla. – Medication adherence and pharmacy reimbursement are two issues that go hand in hand, Steve Anderson, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, told attendees in an address at the NACDS Regional Chain Conference here earlier this month.
Pharmacies can cut health care costs and improve health outcomes by helping patients take medications correctly and building on such accomplishments as the defeat of Medicaid pharmacy payment cuts under the average manufacturer price (AMP) model, according to Anderson.
“Reimbursement is lifeblood,” he said. “But the even more compelling case to legislators is pharmacy’s power to reduce health care costs and to help improve lives.”
At the conference NACDS chairman Larry Merlo also hailed public policy victories by the association that are advancing community pharmacy, and he highlighted opportunities for the industry to raise awareness of the value of pharmacy services among lawmakers and policy makers.
“I see an organization that is making a huge transition. In recent years we have emerged as an association that knows how to win. Now we are growing into an association that is winning consistently,” said Merlo, who is president and chief operating officer of CVS Caremark Corp. and is slated to become the company’s chief executive next month.
He cited several victories over the past year, including advancing medication therapy management (MTM) programs, fostering viable pharmacy reimbursement in federal and state government programs, shaping drug disposal policy, preventing co-pay increases in the military’s TRICARE program, and allowing electronic prescribing for controlled substances.
In his address Anderson noted how NACDS has maintained a sharp focus on the issue of medication adherence. He pointed to such studies as the New England Healthcare Institute’s estimate that poor medication adherence leads to $290 billion in annual health care costs, or 13% of total health care expenditures.
“It would seem just the time for the government to better understand how a $1 investment in medication therapy management can save $14 in health care costs,” Anderson said. “When I go into meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill, this concept of medication adherence makes sense to elected officials. Republicans and Democrats alike — instinctively, they get it. Members of the U.S. Senate and members of the U.S. House of Representatives — instinctively, they get it.”
Anderson called adherence “the defining issue” for community pharmacy. “We are not just pleading, ‘Don’t cut our reimbursement,’ as vital as that is. We also are urging, ‘Don’t cut off pharmacy’s power to make government budgets healthier, and patients healthier, for the long term,” he noted.
The term “AMP” has become a “catch-all” term that symbolizes remaining reimbursement issues, including those related to state government budgets, according to Anderson.
“From this broader perspective, AMP remains before us. In fact, at the federal and state levels we need to ‘Re-AMP,’ ” he said. “We need to maintain our forward position — and our fire in the belly. We need to fight for victory, because defeats are unacceptable for pharmacy viability and for patient care.”
Merlo also described the need for pharmacy to strive to reach its potential for patient care, particularly as it relates to boosting medication adherence. To that end, the power of research can continue to advance pharmacy’s case, he pointed out.
“The research and science of pharmacy care over the past two years has expanded our position pretty dramatically,” Merlo said. “Investments being made by many pharmacy and health care companies are helping illustrate and further quantify the value of pharmacy care. We should be pleased and proud with what the research is showing.”
Research demonstrates a return on investment from pharmacy services for plan sponsors and beneficiaries and highlights the importance of strategies moving forward, he explained.
“We need to continue to develop tools and programs to engage and educate people about the importance of taking medications as directed,” Merlo said. “We need to find ways to incentivize patients to take better care of themselves. We need to develop and use new technology to help this effort.”