HHS rule gives pharmacies flexibility with rewards

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WASHINGTON — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores welcomed a final rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that allows pharmacies greater flexibility to extend their reward and loyalty programs to beneficiaries in government programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

NACDS said Wednesday that the final rule, issued by HHS’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and going into effect on Jan. 6, includes several of the association’s suggestions. NACDS noted that it had submitted formal comments to the OIG during the rule‘s development to express strong support for it in concept and convey revisions needed for the rule’s feasibility.

“NACDS advocated for this rule, and worked constructively to help enhance it, because it will allow government program beneficiaries to enjoy access to programs voluntarily implemented by pharmacies which reduce health care costs, improve quality and promote patient health,” commented president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.

Although retail pharmacy customer rewards programs have been popular and brought benefits to many patients for years, federal laws have blocked participation by government-program beneficiaries, NACDS noted. Programs vary in their designs but often include cost savings or other rewards for filling prescriptions or engaging in other health-related activities, such as health screenings, medication adherence programs or healthy lifestyle behaviors, among others.

“This is a very positive step forward for pharmacy patient care,” Anderson added, “and a further recognition by a government agency of the tremendous value of pharmacies as the face of neighborhood health care and of the expanded innovative programs that pharmacies ­provide.”



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