By Stephanie DuBois, Associate Director, Marketing Communications
Community pharmacists rallied on social media last week to highlight the negative impact that exclusive Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy networks have on patients and community pharmacies. Through communications to Capitol Hill as well as tweets and Facebook posts (using the hashtag #pharmacychoice), we continued to spread our message to patients, health care providers, and elected officials that willing community pharmacies are unfairly excluded from participating in “preferred” pharmacy networks.
Some examples of the #pharmacychoice posts we saw on Twitter and Facebook last week include these stories:
- “@Commpharmacy a pt. has to get mail order (no copay) or pay full price for insulin (ave temp high 80/90s) after 2 refills #pharmacychoice” – via @Joe_Greenwood (note: @commpharmacy is NCPA’s Twitter handle.)
- “@commpharmacy We’ve lost patients due to the Medicare Preferred Network and now they drive 40+ miles to get their drugs. #pharmacychoice” – via @StockstillsRx
- “We are @BenFrankApoth & believe everybody should have right to choose their own pharmacy #PharmacyChoice #IAmSmallBiz http://youtu.be/yA-0x8P1pf4” – via @BenFrankApoth
- “We have a lot of patients who have changed due to lower co-pays or “preferred” status.” – via Facebook
- “I still have some patients that prefer our service, enough to pay $75-$125 a copayment, but let’s face it, most people cannot afford to pay a higher copayment, regardless of how good my service is.” – via Facebook
- “I have a patient who can’t afford the extra $27 for her copay at my pharmacy for her pain medication. The chain stores she asked to use won’t order her med until she brings the script. Sometimes she waits a week. With narcotics the chance for withdrawal is constantly on her mind now, but she doesn’t have the choice because of the money.” – via Facebook
Community pharmacists also urged their Representatives to support H.R. 4577, the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act, which now has 22 cosponsors. The legislation would allow any willing pharmacy located in a medically underserved area (such as rural areas or certain urban areas) to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks.
Personal stories are the most effective messages we can share with elected officials. Please keep up the pressure and ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor H.R. 4577 and support #pharmacychoice. Access resources and learn more about this issue at www.ncpanet.org/pharmacychoice.