WASHINGTON — Kerr Drug chairman and chief executive officer Tony Civello represented the National Association of Chain Drug Stores in a White House event on the economy with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
During the Wednesday event, Civello — a NACDS past chairman — conveyed the message that increased federal funding for state Medicaid programs is key to enabling community pharmacies to help patients take their medications properly, in turn improving health outcomes and preventing higher long-term costs, the association said.
NACDS added that at the event Civello also took the opportunity to raise awareness for a key provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009: a temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP). The association and other pharmacy groups are urging Congress to extend this temporary increase beyond its scheduled termination at the end of this year.
"It is an honor to represent NACDS at the White House, and we appreciate the invitation from President Obama," Civello said in a statement after his participation in the event. "It is important to highlight that the ARRA provided additional federal funding to state Medicaid programs. I don’t need to tell anyone that state budgets are very tight. Many state budgets still include Medicaid cuts. But the additional federal funding has made a difference in preserving health care access. This is really important for people’s lives and for controlling long-term costs."
He noted that reduced access to pharmacies likely will result in patients not taking their prescriptions appropriately. "Any short-term savings are outweighed by short- and long-term costs that result from serious health complications requiring more expensive medical treatments," he explained. "By one estimate, failure to take medications as prescribed, or lack of medication adherence as we call it, leads to $290 billion in annual health care costs, or 13% of total annual health care expenditures.
"And the temporary increase in federal funding for state Medicaid programs is essential to patient health and to the viability of this valuable health resource," Civello added.
In addition, NACDS pointed out that pharmacies are key economic drivers. The total economic impact of all retail stores with pharmacies goes beyond their $815 billion in annual sales: For every $1 spent in those stores, there’s a ripple effect of $3.82 in other industries, for a total economic impact of $3.11 trillion, equal to 26% of the gross domestic product, according to NACDS.