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Anderson: Industry Advocacy, Engagement Key to Healthcare Reform
Date:8/10/2009

Anderson to 2009 Pharmacy & Technology Conference Attendees: "We have no choice but to embrace our role as true reformers"

Boston, MA (PRWEB) August 10, 2009 -- Today, National Association of Chain Drug Stores' (NACDS) President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, urged the 2009 Pharmacy & Technology Conference attendees to engage and advocate on pro-pharmacy, pro-patient issues that impact the industry. During this morning's Business Program at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Anderson articulated the current state of play on the healthcare reform debate and the challenges that lie ahead.

Citing the NACDS Principles of Healthcare Reform, enhancing visibility through media interviews, congressional testimony and this year's first annual RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, Anderson demonstrated through recent successes just how effective a highly engaged membership can be in affecting congressional and regulatory outcomes.

"NACDS and our allies achieved legislative victories that are really incremental reforms. For example, we delivered a delay in the Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement cuts … gained prompt payment requirements for Medicare Part D claims … froze retail co-payments in the military's TRICARE healthcare plans … created incentives to spur adoption of e-prescribing in Medicare … secured the allowance of electronic logbooks to track pseudoephedrine sales while still allowing paper systems … and achieved an Internet pharmacy law that distinguishes between rogue websites and legitimate, state-licensed pharmacies."

Anderson also cited victories for the industry in the stimulus bill, including $2 billion in grants and loans to advance health information technology, and a temporary increase in federal funding for state Medicaid programs, totaling $86.6 billion.

Now in the thick of the healthcare reform debate, Anderson urged continued focus on the task at hand.

"Our objective remains the same: to bring about as many of our Principles of Healthcare Reform as possible. There are three key pharmacy issues very much in play. These include reforming Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement, expanding the availability of medication therapy management - or MTM, and exempting pharmacies that sell durable medical equipment - DME - from the redundant and access-threatening requirements of accreditation and surety bonds."

Anderson also stressed that while we may not know what form the healthcare bill will take, we do know that one of the most critical priorities for the industry is to permanently fix the Deficit Reduction Act's (DRA) Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement cuts under the average manufacturer price model - or AMP - which is slated to reimburse pharmacies below cost for many generic drugs.

"The regulations to implement these cuts have been written. But they remain blocked by two mammoth victories: a legislative delay secured last year, which I mentioned, and a Court injunction, which was secured through a lawsuit by NACDS and NCPA. Every day these cuts are not in effect, $5.5 million in pharmacy cuts are prevented. From January 1, 2008, through September 30, 2009, $3.5 billion in access-threatening cuts will have been avoided. But, throughout, we have emphasized the need for a long-term legislative solution - an against-the-odds, up-hill battle against the DRA."

"We have to fight not only the policy of the Deficit Reduction Act, but also the flawed perception that it has created. Even though we have blocked the DRA temporarily, it continues to bite pharmacy. Every day, we are reminded that the DRA is a dragon that has yet to be slain."

Anderson called on attendees to impact change, and urged them to keep telling their stories through NACDS grassroots advocacy program RxIMPACT.    

"We have no choice but to embrace our role as true reformers. Whatever the outcome of any specific legislation, our objective will remain the same. Just as we have over the past two years, we will utilize every legislative, regulatory, legal and media strategy in the pursuit of good policy. For pharmacy and the patients they serve, this battle will continue for a long, long time."

Anderson offered gratitude for attendees' engagement to further advance the industry's efforts on healthcare reform.

"We appreciate your engagement, and thank you in advance for all you will do - and all we must do in the future. Reform is not a destination, but a journey. Together, it will be a successful one at that."

For a copy of Anderson's prepared remarks, please click here.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets, and mass merchants with pharmacies. Its more than 160 chain member companies include regional chains with a minimum of four stores to national companies. NACDS members also include more than 1,000 suppliers of pharmacy and front-end products, and 85 international members representing 28 countries. Chains operate 39,000 pharmacies, and employ a total of more than 2.5 million employees, including 118,000 pharmacists. They fill more than 2.5 billion prescriptions yearly, and have annual sales of over $750 billion. For more information about NACDS, visit www.NACDS.org.

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Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/healthcare_reform/pharmacy/prweb2733744.htm.


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