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NCPA calls on CMS to nix Mississippi Medicaid Rx cuts

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association has urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reject the state of Mississippi’s plan to trim Medicaid pharmacy reimbursements by 15% for the rest of the fiscal year.

NCPA said Wednesday that it sent a letter to Cindy Mann, Center for Medicaid and State Operations director, that calls on CMS not to approve Mississippi’s proposal, which the association noted could impact patient access to pharmacy prescription drug services. The state must obtain federal approval to enact the reduction in pharmacy reimbursement.

According to NCPA, the letter echoes the sentiment expressed by the Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association, which has taken the lead in opposing the cuts and has filed a request to amend a pending lawsuit to prevent the cuts from occurring.

"The still-troubled economy is causing the Medicaid rolls to grow across the country, which is why cuts that could squeeze some pharmacies and other health care providers to the financial breaking point are bad public policy," Bruce Roberts, NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "If that happens, Medicaid patients would likely lose access to prescriptions drugs and seek more expensive health care options like doctor’s offices and emergency rooms, or even possible hospitalization if their health deteriorates enough. That’s why NCPA joins the Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association in opposing Mississippi’s plan to dramatically cut pharmacy reimbursements."

NCPA said the rate reductions would be done through a decrease in the rates paid for ingredient costs and that Mississippi has proposed the cutback in pharmacy reimbursement, along with similar reimbursement reductions for other Medicaid providers, to offset a state budget shortfall.

The letter, signed by NCPA senior vice president of government affairs John Coster, argued that CMS approval of Mississippi’s proposal or any similar state plan amendment "would set a dangerous precedent."

"NCPA strongly recommends that CMS reject the proposed Mississippi State Plan Amendment (SPA2010-024)," the letter stated, "and send a strong message that states may not simply cut Medicaid provider payments in violation of federal regulations in order to remedy a state budgetary situation that could be dealt with in a variety of alternate ways."


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