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Pharmacists Commend Congress' Concern over Medicare Preferred Pharmacy Drug Plans
Date:3/21/2013

al of community pharmacies."

The lawmakers noted they were concerned over questions about the usefulness of the Medicare Plan Finder website and the fact that some plans may require seniors to travel long distances to reach a preferred pharmacy.  They asked the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to "outline a plan to mitigate any hardship" that the plans may cause beneficiaries and community pharmacists, and asked if Medicare plans to "expand opportunities for independent pharmacies to join and compete with the Part D preferred networks on a level playing field."

Separately, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) has also written to CMS raising questions about the plans. In his letter, he cited the unique pharmacy access challenges of a rural state like Kansas; questioned whether the preferred pharmacy plans are accurately marketed to beneficiaries; and whether independent pharmacies are allowed to participate. "I believe that local pharmacists play a very important role in the delivery of health care across our country because in many rural communities they are often the most accessible provider," Senator Moran wrote.

"Independent community pharmacists and the patients they serve greatly appreciate the leadership of these officials in posing exactly the right questions to Medicare," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey , RPh, MBA.  "Some seniors are surprised to learn that they must travel great distances to obtain the lowest advertised co-pays.  Medicare officials bought into these plans with the expectation that they would help to reduce costs.  However, a comparison on Medicare Plan Finder's website suggests that the Plan Finder full cost may be the same or even higher at preferred pharmacies and mail order t
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SOURCE National Community Pharmacists Association
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