Boston, Mass. – 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 obj

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