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Majority of House of Representatives Support Common-Sense Fix to Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan
Date:10/15/2007

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bipartisan support for prompt reimbursement of Medicare Part D prescription drug claims to community pharmacies continues to grow. H.R.1474, the Fair and Speedy Treatment (FAST) of Medicare Prescription Drug Claims Act of 2007, has just signed its 220th co-sponsor. In response, Bruce Roberts, RPh, executive vice president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) issued the following statement:

"A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives agrees -- it's time we put our nations' Medicare patients first. Slow government reimbursement has left some patients without access to their prescription medications and their community pharmacists, which is a trend that can be halted by taking corrective action. That is why today, upon the signing of the 220th co-sponsor, I urge Chairman Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-Calif.) to quickly consider H.R. 1474 in their respective committees and report them to the House floor for a final vote this year.

"Any suggestion that quicker reimbursement is a logistical impossibility is refuted by the evidence in the Medicaid program that still enjoys prompt reimbursement," added Roberts.

In 2006, after enjoying years of stability in the market, community pharmacies saw 5% of their colleagues close their doors. The only new factor in the marketplace was the introduction of the Medicare Part D program, and the slow-down of reimbursement.

Delay of reimbursement for community pharmacists often can be attributed to the practices of the pharmacy benefit managers (PBM). Pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are the largely unregulated drug middlemen that administer the prescription drug benefit portion of health insurance plans for private companies, unions, and governments. These groups are paid in advance by the federal government to run their plans, while community pharmacists, the foundation of our nation's small business owners, are forced to wait for reimbursement.

H.R. 1474 requires accurate Part D claims submitted electronically be paid within 14 days by electronic funds transfer and paper claims within 30 days by the administrators of Part D plans--pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). The Senate companion bill S.1954, the Pharmacy Access Improvement Act (PhAIM) of 2007, has 20 co-sponsors, including Senate finance Committee chair and ranking member Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

Further evidence that H.R. 1474 is a much-needed bill can be found in the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Pharmacoeconomic Studies report called the "Length of Prescription Drug Payment Times by Medicare Part D Plans." Click here to learn more: http://www.ncpanet.org/pdf/leg/ut_study_exec_sum_090607.pdf.

The National Community Pharmacists Association, founded in 1898, represents the nation's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 pharmacies. The nation's independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises, and independent chains dispense nearly half of the nation's retail prescription medicines. To learn more go to http://www.ncpanet.org.


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SOURCE National Community Pharmacists Association
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