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Issues top of mind at Regional Chain Conference

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NACDS chairman expects 'a lot of discussion' on Medicaid AMP rule

Regional Chain Conference chairman Eric Graf of Ritzman Pharmacies

NACDS chairman Randy Edeker of Hy-Vee

Pfizer's Walter Slijepcevich and Thrifty White's Robert Narveson

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson

Political pundit Morton Kondracke

IMS Health's Doug Long

Kantar Retail's Brian Owens

Ritzman Pharmacies' Eric Graf passes the torch of Regional Chain Conference chairman to Kristin Williams of Hy-Vee.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Fresh off the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl victory last evening, policy and politics moved into the spotlight as the main program of the 2016 NACDS Regional Chain Conference got under way.

At the Opening General Session here on Monday, political analyst Morton Kondracke gave attendees his take on the national political scene and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores launched NACDS RxIMPACT Votes, the get-out-the-vote arm of its RxImpact grassroots advocacy program.

Also of primary focus at this year’s Regional Chain Conference, which kicked off of Sunday and runs to Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, is NACDS and its members’ continuing evaluation of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Covered Outpatient Drugs Final Rule, better known as the Medicaid average manufacturer price (AMP) rule.

The opening session began a series of forums throughout the event that will address pharmacy, health and wellness, and front-end issues for regional chains and their suppliers. Pharmacy and front-end topics being explored at the conference include health care innovation, consumer-driven and retail-based health care, Drug Enforcement Administration compliance, small-format equity, pharmaceutical trends, transitions of care and employment law.

The Regional Chain Conference focuses on the needs of chain pharmacy retailers that operate from four to 250 stores each. Overall, NACDS regional chain members at the conference represent more than 2,300 stores and $11 billion in annual sales.

“This conference makes a difference,” conference chairman and Ritzman Pharmacies chief executive officer Eric Graf told attendees. “This conference is about sharing, collaboration and discussion on the issues and opportunities now and in the future. The value realized by this conference is directly proportional to the amount of effort we put into each of our interactions this week.” Graf also is slated to speak at Tuesday’s general session, titled “Redefining the Community Pharmacy Experience.”

NACDS chairman Randy Edeker, who is chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee Inc., recapped the association’s decade-long advocacy for pharmacy patient care on the Medicaid AMP issue. That other federal and state issues received a comprehensive review, led by NACDS Policy Council chairman Mike Duteau, vice president of business development and strategic relations at Kinney Drugs.

“There is going to be a lot of discussion about the new Medicaid AMP rule, and I want to make two points. First, I encourage you to dive into the presentations and discussions. Second, regarding NACDS’ track record on this issue, NACDS has demonstrated great leadership in advocating for pharmacy and for patients. It is a very tough issue and NACDS will have a very critical eye,” Edeker said. “Looking back, the success of NACDS and our allies in blocking the original approach to Medicaid AMP prevented the forced closure of 11,000 pharmacies, 20% of all stores.”

Edeker also called on members to engage in the NACDS RxIMPACT program and announced the return for the 2016 elections of the NACDS RxIMPACT Votes initiative.

“This program is not telling you who to vote for, but it encourages the people of pharmacy to know the issues and to get out and vote,” he noted. “This is a bipartisan program that will give you the materials you need to engage your teams about how to support the candidates of their choice.”

Having political pundit Kondracke speak at the Regional Chain Conference helps set the tone for discussion at the event, particularly with the start of the presidential nomination process, according to NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.

“The timing of this conference is ideal for political analysis: It is right between the February 1 Iowa Caucuses and tomorrow’s New Hampshire primary,” Anderson said, pointing to Kondracke’s visibility in a myriad of media outlets — including Roll Call, Fox News, NPR and The Wall Street Journal, among many others — over his 60-year career.

“In describing political analysts, the first instinct is usually to list the media brands with which they have been associated over time. In addition to these brands with which most have been associated, we could add NACDS to the list. He has joined us somewhat regularly, most recently at NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill in 2012 to discuss the presidential and congressional elections in that year,” Anderson told attendees.

*Editor’s Note: Article updated with slideshow. Photos courtesy NACDS.


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