By Stephanie DuBois, Associate Director, Marketing Communications
Community pharmacists rallied on social media the week of Jan. 13-17, 2014 to highlight the negative impact that exclusive Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy networks have on patients and community pharmacies. Through more than 100 phone calls and emails to Capitol Hill and hundreds of tweets and Facebook posts (using the hashtag #pharmacychoice), we continued to spread our message to patients, health care providers, and elected officials that “preferred” pharmacy networks are not always a cheaper or better option for patients and taxpayers. In fact, tweeters using the #pharmacychoice hashtag made more than 289,000 impressions on Twitter last week alone.
Examples of the #pharmacychoice posts we saw on Twitter and Facebook last week include:
- “@Commpharmacy #pharmacychoice I am losing patients that need my care and expertise #powhatanrx” – via @dbesmaevr (note: @commpharmacy is NCPA’s Twitter handle.)
- “My store can match prices & care for patients face-to-face. Why can’t I participate as a Medicare preferred pharmacy? #pharmacychoice” – via @usaveitcorp
- “Just lost another great customer to Walmart because Medicare won’t do business with me. #pharmacychoice #nochoice #businesskiller” – via @CamdenDrug
- “Community Rx saves $$$ vs mail-order. Today we saved a part-d member $700+ /month in drug spend & 100’s in copay $ on 1 drug #pharmacychoice” – via @WebbsPharmacy
- “We have lost several patients in our five stores to Walmart and other pharmacies who would rather come to us since we are more convenient and offer better service.” – via Facebook
- “Many customers lost due to preferred networks at my store. Patients are having to drive 20 – 30 minutes to get to the closest preferred network pharmacy.” – via Facebook
These #pharmacychoice grassroots efforts coincided with the release of a new analysis on Jan. 16 that found the Medicare Part D program and taxpayers often pay more when prescription drugs are obtained through “preferred” pharmacies and mail order than they would if the same prescriptions were filled through other, “non-preferred” pharmacies. Independent community pharmacies are often not given the opportunity to participate in a Medicare plan’s list of preferred pharmacies, even if they are willing to accept the terms and conditions of the network.
A cost comparison using the Medicare Plan Finder website revealed some not-so-surprising results:
- 89 percent of the time, preferred pharmacy costs to Medicare were higher than those of non-preferred pharmacies.
- 100 percent of the time, mail order costs to Medicare exceeded those of non-preferred pharmacies.
When it comes to saving money or providing more convenient pharmacy services for seniors, “preferred” does not always equal the best.
Join NCPA as we continue to make the case to Congress and others about the value of community pharmacy in improving Medicare patient outcomes and saving taxpayer dollars. Get involved at www.Fight4Rx.org and www.facebook.com/Fight4Rx.