The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has sent a letter to Donald Berwick, the newly appointed administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to urge continued collaboration with community pharmacy on issues that improve the quality of the nation's health care while mitigating long-term costs.


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Pharmacy conveys key concerns to new CMS chief

July 21st, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has sent a letter to Donald Berwick, the newly appointed administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to urge continued collaboration with community pharmacy on issues that improve the quality of the nation's health care while mitigating long-term costs.

In the letter sent to Berwick on Wednesday, NACDS discussed the importance of patients taking their medications as prescribed and the role that pharmacists can play in counseling patients to do so. The association noted that through medication therapy management (MTM) programs, pharmacists can help boost medication adherence and deliver related health benefits and cost savings.

"NACDS and its member companies are committed to improving patient adherence to their prescription drug regimens," stated the letter, signed by NACDS president and chief executive Steve Anderson.  "A July 2009 report by the New England Healthcare Institute estimated that the overall cost of poor medication adherence, measured in otherwise avoidable medical spending, is as much as $290 billion per year, or 13% of total health care expenditures. We strongly believe that access to neighborhood pharmacies and pharmacist-provided care can improve health outcomes for patients and reduce costs."

NACDS also highlighted pharmacy reimbursement, pharmacy's role in a medical home and the prevention of fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid as issues that the industry looks forward to working with CMS on during Berwick's tenure.

Specifically, the letter cited a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Section 2503, that changes the way pharmacies are reimbursed for generic drugs in the Medicaid program. NACDS said it believes the implementation of Section 2503 is complex and "will require rulemaking with a reasonable public comment period."

NACDS also pointed to Section 2703 of PPACA, the Medicaid State Option to Provide Health Home to Enrollees with Chronic Conditions. The provision creates a new Medicaid state plan option for Medicaid enrollees with chronic conditions to designate a provider or team of providers as their health home. "We believe that incorporating community pharmacies in health homes is critical to improving care for Medicaid beneficiaries with chronic conditions," the letter stated.

Anderson concluded the letter, "We look forward to working with you on these and other issues that impact chain pharmacies and the patients they serve."

Berwick only took the CMS administrator reins in July despite being nominated to the post in April by President Barack Obama.

Earlier this month, Obama bypassed legislators and appointed Berwick to the post while the Senate was on its summer recess after the confirmation was held up for nearly three months by Republicans.

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