Archive for March, 2010

Among Top Plans, Community CCRx Only PDP to Decrease Premiums in ’10

There’s new evidence that health insurance plans don’t need to resort to mail order mandates in order to keep premiums under control. Avalere Health recently reported that, while 9 of the top 10 Medicare Part D plans increased premiums in 2010, the other – Community CCRx’s Basic plan – actually reduced premiums slightly.

As Bruce Roberts noted previously, Community CCRx prescription drug plans eschew the mail-order emphasis in favor of a community pharmacy approach. (Patients who opt for home delivery rely on any one of the in-network independent pharmacies.)

The report, featured in Kaiser Health News, found that the 10 insurers with the largest numbers of Medicare Part D members raised premiums an average of 10 percent this year to $34.30. The largest increase was 42 percent. In contrast, Community CCRx Basic’s average premium decreased by 2 percent to $28.86, making it the only top 10 PDP to lower its premium.

The top 10 plans insure 70 percent of all people enrolled in Part D plans, according to the report, which is based on CMS enrollment data.
The Avalere study also found that the average monthly premiums across all PDPs increased by more than 40 percent since the inception of the prescription drug program. By contrast, Community CCRx Basic has a lower average premium in 2010 than in 2006, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study published earlier this year.

Premiums are calculated as part of the annual bidding process that the government uses to administer the Medicare Part D program. To find out more about how the bidding process works, view NCPA’s online tutorial (free registration required).

View Avalere Health report (free registration required).

Mandatory Mail Order Debate Rages On

By Kevin Schweers

Drug Topics recently published a thoughtful, 1,900 word examination of the pros and cons of mail order pharmacy.

Continue reading ‘Mandatory Mail Order Debate Rages On’

Valacyclovir Update and Next Steps

By Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA

The shortage of Ranbaxy’s valacyclovir (generic Valtrex) continues and more people are looking for information about it, judging by Internet search engine traffic to The Dose. So, here’s an update on the situation to hopefully give some answers to those affected by the shortage. Continue reading ‘Valacyclovir Update and Next Steps’

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman

By Kevin Schweers

The bleak financial outlook for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has prompted its leadership to pursue major reforms that could impact practically every segment of pharmacy one way or another. Continue reading ‘Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman’

Lies, damned lies, and PBMs

By Devin Stone

PBMs have always seemed willing to spend a few dollars here and there to protect their bottom line, so it’s of no surprise to see the publication of a staunchly pro-PBM survey by Ayers, McHenry & Associates—a group that lists the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association as one of its clients. Continue reading ‘Lies, damned lies, and PBMs’

New FTC Commissioners Could Signal Greater PBM Oversight

By John Coster, RPh., Ph.D.

The U.S. Senate’s recent confirmation of two individuals – Julie Brill and Edith Ramirez – to serve on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) might presage more agency scrutiny of pharmacy benefit managers. Continue reading ‘New FTC Commissioners Could Signal Greater PBM Oversight’

More Pharmacies Launching Drug Disposal Programs as Earth Day Nears

By Kevin Schweers

Patients are increasingly demanding safe, environmentally friendly ways to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs, while local pharmacies are always looking to do some good and reach new potential customers. That dynamic is leading more local pharmacies to choose to offer patients convenient drug disposal options. Continue reading ‘More Pharmacies Launching Drug Disposal Programs as Earth Day Nears’

Levin Named Chairman of Key House Committee

By Kevin Schweers

Among the recent headlines out of Congress was the designation Thursday of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) to serve as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. In addition to its tax-writing responsibilities, Ways and Means has significant say over Medicare. Continue reading ‘Levin Named Chairman of Key House Committee’

Roll Call Row Over Feds and PBM Transparency

Bruce Roberts’ February 8 column on savings for federal workers and taxpayers through greater oversight of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) triggered a lively discussion on the Web site Roll Continue reading ‘Roll Call Row Over Feds and PBM Transparency’

Giving Our Military Equal Access to Vaccines Through Pharmacy

By Kevin Schweers

In December, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) began covering three pharmacist-administered vaccines under the TRICARE health plan. Patients, taxpayers and community pharmacists all benefited. Now, we’re asking the Pentagon to recognize additional vaccines to give military health beneficiaries the same immunization services as their civilian counterparts.

Continue reading ‘Giving Our Military Equal Access to Vaccines Through Pharmacy’

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