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Pharmacy groups make case for pro-patient approach

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WASHINGTON — Four pharmacy organizations, including the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, have asked the incoming White House administration and congressional leaders to maintain Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries’ pharmacy access.

“Policies that reduce local pharmacy access lead to poorer health outcomes, ultimately resulting in increased future health care costs,” the associations wrote to President-elect Trump and Senate and House leaders.

The letter from the groups, which include the National Community Pharmacists Association, American Pharmacists Association and National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations as well as NACDS, highlights the accessibility of pharmacists and their role in boosting medication adherence. It also underscored the importance of maintaining patients’ choice of pharmacies, and assuring fair and accurate Med­icaid pharmacy reimbursement, according to average manufacturer price (AMP)-based federal upper limits (FULs) enacted in the Affordable Care Act. It also raises opportunities to build on pharmacists’ vaccination success story by improving access to pharmacist services for underserved Medicare ­beneficiaries.

“Nearly all Americans (91%) live within five miles of a community pharmacy,” the organizations wrote. “As Americans’ most convenient and accessible health care provider, we look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid patients can continue to receive cost-effective pharmacy services. As the demand for health care services continues to grow, pharmacists have expanded their role by collaborating with physicians, nurses, and other health care providers to meet patients’ needs.”

While noting the opportunities in newer pharmacist-provided services, the associations emphasized that jeopardizing pharmacy access for medication services threatens health outcomes and health care affordability.

“The importance of medication-related services and maintaining access to community pharmacists for the Medicare and Medicaid populations cannot be overstated,” they said. “Improving medication adherence can help Congress achieve its goals of better managing care for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries while lowering the overall costs of health care. Medications are the primary method of treating chronic disease, and are involved in 80% of all treatment regimens. Unfortunately, medication-related problems, including poor adherence, costs the nation approximately $290 billion annually — 13% of total health care expenditures — and results in health complications, worsening of disease progression, emergency room visits and hospital stays, all of which are avoidable and costly.”


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