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Rx groups welcome Medicaid aid in Obama budget

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Retail pharmacy groups applauded the Obama administration’s plan, as part of its proposed fiscal 2011 budget, to extend the temporary hike in federal Medicaid assistance to the states.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association said Tuesday the much-needed measure would allocate $25.5 billion for a six-month extension of the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"It will mean improved health outcomes while averting the higher costs that can arise when patients seek treatment at emergency rooms for conditions that can be managed through pharmacist-delivered medication therapy management," Bruce Roberts, NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

NACDS said it has urged for an extension of the FMAP increase and this week sent a letter to Congress on the matter. The proposed extension would maintain the FMAP boost, which otherwise would expire at the end of 2010, through June 2011.

"We believe that extending the current FMAP increases is critical to serving the health care needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens and to assist states grappling with enormous budget challenges," NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said in the letter.

Roberts noted that the move to shield entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid from the proposed spending freeze "should help preserve millions of patients’ access to their community pharmacists."

Both associations also voiced their support of initiatives under the budget proposal that would help promote prevention, management of chronic conditions and medication adherence and open the door for pharmacists to play a key part in those efforts.

"There are prevention programs in this budget in which pharmacy’s role as the face of neighborhood health care should be recognized and tapped," Anderson commented. "The role of community pharmacy in advancing medication adherence and all of its positive results will continue to be a mantra of NACDS, because the benefits for public health are too great to overlook.”


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