U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) recently became the 19th United States Senator to go on record expressing concerns over the impact of Medicare “preferred pharmacy” drug plans on Medicare, taxpayers, seniors and small-business community pharmacies.
In addition to the Senators, more than 30 Members of Congress, MedPAC and Medicare officials themselves have expressed concerns regarding these plans, which have proliferated. Seniors in these plans may have to travel 20+ miles to obtain their prescription drugs in exchange for little, if any, overall savings.
After the Louisiana Independent Pharmacies Association (LIPA) raised these issues, Sen. Landrieu wrote to Medicare.
“I am concerned that these networks may increase Medicare Part D costs and negatively impact Medicare beneficiaries’ access to pharmacies, especially in rural areas,” wrote Landrieu, who is also a cosponsor of S. 557, legislation to expand utilization of medication therapy management services in Medicare to improve health outcomes. She added, “I ask that you implement increased oversight of Medicare plans with preferred networks to minimize potential risks.”
Moreover, a pricing comparison of commonly used drugs shows many instances in which preferred pharmacy plans had higher total costs than traditional, non-preferred plans, according to Medicare’s Plan Finder website. Medicare officials are examining the cost discrepancies.
In the view of Medicare, NCPA and others, any legitimate pharmacy willing to accept plan terms and conditions, including reimbursement, should be allowed to participate.