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NCPA gives thumbs up to FMAP extension in ‘jobs bill’

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Noting the financial hardships gripping many state budgets, the National Community Pharmacists Association applauded congressional leaders for proposing to continue a funding hike for Medicaid as part of economic stimulus legislation.

NCPA said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (D., Mich.) on Thursday announced the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act — the so-called "jobs bill" — which includes a six-month extension of the temporary increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) enacted in stimulus legislation last year. The 2009 funding increase is set to expire Dec. 31.

"Chairmen Baucus and Levin are to be commended for including this critical provision in their legislation," Bruce Roberts, chief executive officer and executive vice president at NCPA, said in a statement. "States are facing a crippling double whammy when it comes to Medicaid. Tough economic times have both forced more Americans to enroll in the public assistance program and sapped state revenues, creating budget shortfalls across the country. This funding would mitigate the need for devastating Medicaid cuts from coast to coast."

An extension of the FMAP increase, Roberts explained, would help preserve Medicaid patients’ access to necessary care, especially their prescription medications, and in turn lower health care costs through better health outcomes.

"Independent pharmacies frequently care for an extraordinarily high proportion of Medicaid patients, often in underserved rural and urban areas. Independent community pharmacies also derive nearly all income from prescription sales, making them particularly at risk when Medicaid programs are cut," he pointed out. "Ultimately, extending this funding and ensuring continuity in medication therapy should prove to be a cost-saver for the federal and state governments as patients receive treatment for their conditions far more economically then they could in emergency rooms or doctors’ offices.

"We strongly urge Congress to approve an FMAP extension as soon as possible," Roberts added. "Many states are currently adjusting budgets for 2010 or writing budgets for 201, so time is of the essence."

NCPA said the legislation would also extend the 340B prescription drug discount program for uninsured patients to certain hospitals and other inpatient settings.

"We ask that Congress and the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration take appropriate steps to ensure that these limited taxpayer dollars are targeted where they are most needed — to uninsured and underinsured patients — rather than diverted for the benefit of those who already have prescription drug coverage, such as hospital employees and dependents," Roberts stated.


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