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Pharmacy prepares for new paths in health care

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NACDS Regional Chain Conference gauges changing climate

NACDS Regional Chain Conference chair Kristin Williams of Hy-Vee

NACDS chairman Martin Otto of H-E-B

Steve Anderson, NACDS president and CEO

The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., the site of the Regional Chain Conference

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PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the nation reassesses its health care system under a new presidential administration, the integral role of pharmacy cannot be overlooked, National Association of Chain Drug Stores leaders said at the NACDS Regional Chain Conference here.

“This meeting and the topics addressed in the coming days could not be timelier with the current uncertainties in the health care industry,” NACDS Regional Chain Conference chair Kristin Williams said Monday at the opening general session.

“Regional chains are well-equipped to face these challenges and develop innovative solutions for retail community pharmacy. We deliver personalized care, we adapt to emerging community needs and pilot new products and services in partnership with the suppliers gathered here today,” added Williams, who is senior vice president and chief health officer at Hy-Vee Inc.

The 2017 NACDS Regional Chain Conference, which kicked off on Sunday and runs through Tuesday at The Breakers in Palm Beach, draws drug and supermarket chains with four to 250 locations and their supplier partners to exchange ideas on how to meet customers’ health and wellness needs throughout the store in today’s business environment.

Unsurprisingly, with the Trump administration in its early days, conference sessions had a political flavor, with discussions on policy dynamics, pharmacy patient care and pharmacy reimbursement with potential changes to the Affordable Care Act, regulatory reform, direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees and the pharmaceutical market.

Other session topics include new services such as personalized medicine, provider status for pharmacists in Medicare, third-party negotiations and audits, naloxone developments, retail dynamics, human resources law, and value-based care models and immunizations.

The Regional Chain Conference also features one-on-one business conferences join NACDS chain and associate members for company-specific discussions.

“Companies and associations are going to have to totally change how they address issues in health policy, and in the political world that elects the leaders that establish the policy in which we are involved,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson told attendees in the opening session. “Associations are going to need to be fleet of foot, flexibile, smart, shrewd, astute, respected and very politically savvy. It is absolutely essential that associations think more like start-ups and position themselves more like think tanks as they come up with innovative solutions.”

Not just innovation but also participation will be key in today’s business and government climates, NACDS leaders noted. They encouraged attendees to take part in NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, the association’s annual grassroots lobbying drive in Washington, on March 14 and 15. During last year’s RxImpact event, pharmacy advocates were able to meet with 90% of Congress.

Besides meetings with federal lawmakers and officials, RxImpact includes congressional pharmacy tours, training programs for companies and for schools of pharmacy, get-out-the-vote programs and other initiatives.

“We need to participate by leading public policy solutions for health care. We need long-term, end-to-end thinking about health care, its connection to other spending needs, and how individual actions affect the overall situation,” stated NACDS chairman Martin Otto, chief merchant and chief financial officer at H-E-B. “Health care sectors don’t understand each others’ situations. That’s a prerequisite for collaboration and for development of an end-to-end solution, and to educate legislators and regulators. NACDS is helping to identify these end-to-end solutions, benefiting total health care, patients and pharmacy.”


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