Magazine article Drug Topics

NCPA: Independents Are Down, but Don't Count Them Out

Magazine article Drug Topics

NCPA: Independents Are Down, but Don't Count Them Out

Article excerpt

Squeezed by low and slow reimbursement from Medicare Part D, independent pharmacists have certainly taken their lumps this past year. But they still managed to eke out some victories, according to leaders of the National Community Pharmacists Association, which held its annual meeting in Las Vegas last month.

For one thing, by partnering with chains in the Coalition on Community Pharmacy Action, NCPA has managed to keep the military's TRICARE program from going to mandatory mau order. This means the nine million patients in this program can continue to go to their local pharmacies for their prescriptions.

Even on the Medicare Part D front, while NCPA considers it to be "a bad law" and opposed the legislation, the association has made "the best of a bad situation" by doing several things, Bruce Roberts, executive VP of NCPA, told the audience. Working with MemberHealth, NCPA has developed a national prescription drug plan (PDP) called Community Care Rx (CCRx). Even though it's not a household name compared with other PDPs, such as Humana, CCRx has become the fourth largest plan in the country. This PDP offers patients face-to-face interaction with pharmacists, instead of call centers. "Because of our success, many plans now realize they're better off with pharmacy as a partner, than as an adversary," Roberts claimed.

Another achievement related to Medicare Part D is the establishment of an on-line system-Community MTM-pharmacists can use to deliver medication therapy management and bill for their services. CMTM shows R.Ph.s their patients' complete medication claims history, ways to save money, and potential clinical concerns. CMTM is pharmacy- and sponsor-neutral and free to pharmacists. NCPA hopes that CMTM will grow to become an industrywide network, just as SureScripts has become for electronic prescribing. (For more on MTM, see page 30.)

Speaking of e-prescribing, Roberts noted that since SureScripts was formed in 2001, it has grown to cover more than 30,000 pharmacies. But independents are still slow about getting their pharmacies set up for eprescribing. Some 83% of independents are not connected to SureScripts yet, while more than 90% of the nation's chains are hooked up. He urged members to get connected promptly for greater efficiency and safety.

NCPA is offering its members a new weekly e-newsletter featuring health information that stores could send to patients under their own brand name. …

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