The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is set to formally consider today the nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to serve as the top executive, or Administrator, of the Medicare and federal Medicaid programs at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Ms. Tavenner currently serves as Acting Administrator. In recent months, Medicare has begun to take steps to address some concerns of patients and their community pharmacists.
Specifically, in its “call letter” to organizations sponsoring Medicare Part D drug plans regarding CMS policies for 2014, the agency addressed egregious pharmacy audits; “preferred pharmacy” plans and beneficiary access concerns; and mail order pharmacy auto-shipping waste. This came in response to hearing repeatedly from a combination of patients, NCPA members, and NCPA staff.
NCPA would like to see Congress continue to exercise oversight of CMS in these areas. NCPA members would like Congress to gather information on whether or not preferred pharmacy networks are costing the taxpayer and CMS more than non-preferred pharmacy networks. Further, NCPA is encouraged by signs that Congress is interested in learning more about the Medicare Plan Finder website and any problems or patient confusion created by it. Lastly, NCPA would encourage Congress to explore how CMS plans to consider allowing “non-preferred” pharmacies to enter into these “preferred networks” to cut down on patient confusion, higher costs, and long distances to travel, among other concerns.
NCPA staff and its community pharmacist members look forward to continuing to work constructively with Medicare, Congress and others to promote optimal patient health outcomes and restraining program costs.