NCPA Launches Ads, Web Page Advocating for Pharmacy Choice in Medicare Drug Plans


By Kevin Schweers

Nearly 400 independent community pharmacists have come to Washington, D.C. to advocate for their patients and their communities as part of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Conference on National Legislation and Government Affairs. While they will visit several hundred congressional offices, they may not reach 100 percent of Capitol Hill. So To complement their advocacy efforts, NCPA is running advertisements to echo the work of NCPA members.

Most of the ads focus on NCPA’s top priority—ensuring that every community pharmacy has the opportunity to participate as ‘preferred’ pharmacies in Medicare drug plans.

Pharmacy choice” was the first online ad. Alongside the image, NCPA noted:

Patients prefer independent community pharmacies, surveys show, so give seniors choice. Allow independent community pharmacies to offer “preferred” pharmacy pricing in Medicare Part D drug plans. Right now sweetheart Big Box pharmacy deals are stifling competition. Some Medicare Part D drug plan middlemen have made Big Box pharmacies the “preferred” pharmacy, whether patients like it or not. Independent community pharmacies are often excluded and seek the opportunity to match the “preferred” pharmacy pricing and other contract terms and conditions. This pharmacy choice policy, also known as “any willing pharmacy,” has bipartisan support in Congress, is backed by leading consumer groups and is the best way to increase competition and lower costs in the Part D program.

This ad launched in conjunction with and links to an accompanying Web page—www.ncpanet.org/pharmacychoice—which is a reference point for NCPA’s push for its top priority. The page features key points focused at consumers, government and links to grassroots action alerts that concerned individuals can personalize and send.

That ad was followed by “30 miles.” It features a puzzled consumer holding a prescription and wondering, “Would you ‘prefer’ a pharmacy that’s 30 miles away?” It also links to www.ncpanet.org/pharmacychoice and noted

Independent community pharmacies are the sole pharmacies in many rural areas, but are denied the opportunity to be “preferred” pharmacies in many Medicare Part D drug plans. In about 1,800 rural communities, independent pharmacies are the only pharmacy provider. The next closest pharmacy is many miles away. Independent community pharmacies are excluded from “preferred” pharmacy deals between Big Box pharmacies and Medicare Part D drug plan middlemen. Independent community pharmacies seek only the opportunity to match “preferred” pharmacy pricing and other contract terms and conditions at no added cost to Medicare or seniors. This pharmacy choice policy, also known as “any willing pharmacy,” is supported by the National Rural Health Association and other leading consumer groups.

A third NCPA ad featured a map illustrating the important of independent community pharmacies by state and listed the three top priorities that community pharmacists are advocating:

  • Support pharmacy choice in Medicare Part D. Don’t force rural seniors to travel 20+ miles to a “preferred” pharmacy. Allow any willing pharmacy to offer a drug plan’s “preferred” co-pays, which are currently limited to Big Box pharmacies.
  • Ensure adequate payments for generic drugs; back H.R. 4437. Pharmacists promote generic drugs to save money. But some generic prices are increasing 1,000% overnight while drug plan middlemen wait months to update reimbursement.
  • Expand pharmacists’ role in patient care to provide more health services to those in medically underserved areas. Co-sponsor H.R. 4190.

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