Many of Washington’s biggest players in health care addressed NCPA’s 42nd Annual Legislation and Government Affairs Conference last week. Here’s a re-cap of some of the opening day’s noteworthy speakers:
Pete Levitas, Deputy Director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau on Competition, shared his views on promoting competition in the health care industry, and touched on the agency’s investigation into CVS Caremark (which he called “a priority”) and its fight against “pay-for-delay” settlements, which he said have delayed generic drugs’ entry into the market by 48 months, on average and cost consumers $3.5 billion annually. “We understand that the community pharmacy plays an important role and that some community pharmacies offer services that large chains don’t offer,” Levitas said.
Dr. Jeff Kelman, Chief Medical Officer at Medicare’s Center for Beneficiary Choices, recalled the turbulent launch of Medicare Part D, commended the community pharmacists’ work to get through the crisis and predicted “the best of times going forward for pharmacy.” Much of the cost of Medicare Part D was offset by reduced health care costs in other parts of the Medicare program, he noted. Kelman also previewed the pharmacy guidance that CMS is preparing in order to support programs and training to reduce inappropriate billing or claims. “We would like to make this as painless as possible,” he said. “Nobody thinks the fraud and abuse problems are in the independent community pharmacies.”
Senior Democratic and Republican Congressional staffers from the U.S. Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees and the offices of U.S. Representatives Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) and Zack Space (D-Ohio) discussed the health care landscape, such as health reform implementation and other issues.
A Washington insiders panel featured analysis from top officials with the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the Health Care Distribution Management Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association and Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access. The latter gave a presentation on opportunities for independent community pharmacies with the expansion of 340B programs – a copy of which NCPA members can obtain at www.ncpanet.org.
Separately, Carol H. Steckel, MPH, Alabama’s Medicaid Director and Chair of the National Association of State Medicaid Directors’ Executive Committee, met with members of the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations to discuss health care reform legislation and other Medicaid issues. Alabama’s pursuing two state plan amendments that other states and the feds will be watching. The first would implement the state’s “average acquisition cost” formula which will reduce pharmacy reimbursement; the second would raise the state’s dispensing fees based on a more accurate estimate of a pharmacy’s dispensing costs. NCPA will carefully review the proposals when they become available. You can read more about this here.