Retail News Breaks Archives
With exchanges under way, NACDS gives take on preferred networks
December 16th, 2013
ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores voiced concern to lawmakers about preferred pharmacy networks as consumers sign up for benefits offered via the new health insurance exchanges.
In letter sent last week to the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, NACDS highlighted the potential consequences of restricted pharmacy networks within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans. The statement was submitted for a committee hearing titled, "Premiums, Provider Networks and the Health Care Law."
"Preferred networks in the pharmacy sector may interfere with patient access to quality care. The use of preferred networks limits patient access to pharmacy providers whose services improve lives and help address poor medication adherence, an issue that costs the nation approximately $290 billion annually," NACDS said in the letter.
The association stressed the importance of patient choice in choosing pharmacy providers, pointing out that 92% of Americans live within five miles of a community retail pharmacy.
"Open networks provide greater access and more choices, particularly in more rural areas with fewer pharmacies. Additionally, community pharmacies meet patients' needs for convenient access through a highly competitive environment that gives consumers choices in how their medications and health care services are provided," NACDS stated.
Exchange plan limitations on the number of pharmacies that can participate in a network also limit patient access to knowledgeable professionals who play a critical role in providing care and cost savings, NACDS noted. The association, too, said that restrictions on drug formularies in exchange plans may have consequences for patients.
"NACDS is concerned that patients who face restricted drug formularies and cost sharing may choose to skip their necessary medications, because they simply cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs," the letter stated. "Overall care for these patients may prove more costly in the long run, defeating the goals of providing high-quality, more affordable care."