ARLINGTON, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has backed legislation that would increase Medicare beneficiaries’ access to pharmacist-provided services.
NACDS issued a statement urging members of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health to support H.R. 592/S. 314, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act. The bipartisan legislation has been cosponsored by nearly two-thirds of House members and close to 50 senators.
“The role pharmacists are playing in health care delivery continues to expand,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “In addition to medication adherence services, pharmacists are on the front line of providing access to health tests, helping patients manage chronic health conditions and expanding immunization services. Expanding access to pharmacist services is a key component to reducing health care costs and improving patient outcomes.”
Besides pharmacist provider status, NACDS also voiced support for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s (CMMI’s) Enhanced Medication Therapy Management Model Pilot, which would improve the Part D MTM program by increasing outreach and targeting strategies, and ensuring services are in line with beneficiaries’ needs. The association urged lawmakers to help ensure the inclusion of retail community pharmacists in the pilot program to enhance its potential.
Because the CMMI Enhanced MTM Model Pilot will begin in 2017, NACDS asked lawmakers to support S. 776, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2015, which would give MTM access to beneficiaries with chronic conditions in the short term before the pilot is implemented.
Lack of medication adherence costs the U.S. health care system $290 billion annually, the NACDS statement notes. “Pharmacist-provided services such as MTM are important tools in the effort to improve medication adherence, patient health and health care affordability,” it says. “Studies have shown that patients who are adherent to their medications have more favorable health outcomes, such as reduced mortality, and use fewer health care services, especially hospital readmissions and ER visits.”
“As the U.S. health care system continues to evolve, a prevailing issue will be the adequacy of access to affordable, quality health care,” the statement adds. “The national physician shortage, coupled with the continued expansion of health insurance coverage in recent years, will have serious implications for the nation’s health care system. Access, quality, cost and efficiency in health care are all critical factors — especially to the medically underserved. Without ensuring access to requisite health care services for this vulnerable population it will be very difficult for the nation to achieve the aims of health care reform.
“Pharmacists are playing key roles in new models of care beyond the traditional fee-for-service structure,” NACDS emphasized.