Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Community pharmacists say they're 'outraged' about proposed Medicare changes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed cuts in pharmacy reimbursements Friday, prompting "outrage," a word not usually seen in business-group press releases, from the National Community Pharmacists Association, many members of which are in rural areas.

NCPA said the proposed reimbursement formula for generic prescriptions, based on a new definition of "average manufacturer price," will drive some pharmacies out of business and "dramatically reduce patient access to community pharmacies." The group said independent pharmacies "represent 42 percent of retail pharmacies and serve a large number of underserved rural and densely populated urban areas."

The group said the average community pharmacy's profit in 2006 was $128,968, and a Government Accountability Office report in December estimated that the loss expected as a result of the new formula would be $120,622. "In other words, virtually all profit would be eliminated," NCPA said. "Under these business conditions many community pharmacies will be forced to no longer participate in Medicaid program or even go out of business, which will leave their patients to either find other alternatives for their pharmacy services or be forced to visit emergency rooms and doctor’s offices. The cost to taxpayers will increase because of this misguided approach." For the full press release, click here.

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