Tell your paper: Community pharmacies are the real health centers

This winter CVS Caremark made a splash by announcing the decision to remove tobacco products from their stores. This decision has been praised and states across the country are calling on other chain pharmacies to remove tobacco products.

But what many people don’t realize is that CVS’ decisions is not groundbreaking — most independent, community pharmacies don’t sell tobacco products and never have because of a dedication to complete health and wellness care for their communities.

Tell your local paper that community pharmacists have been leading the way on community health care all along. If you like, we can use our sample Letter to the Editor, available here

Send in a Letter to the Editor

As we approach the end of the comment period on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed changes to Medicare Part D its even more important to get the word out. These changes would enhance patient choice and access by opening up preferred pharmacy networks to community pharmacies.

We have drafted a template Letter to the Editor that you can submit to your local newspaper. The letter briefly explains the rule changes and the importance of community pharmacists to patients’ healthcare quality. Feel free to also add in any personal anecdotes that are relevant.

You can access our draft letter that includes submission instructions here.

And once again, don’t forget to submit your comments to CMS before March 7th!

PUTT’s Jason Wallace at New America Foundation

On March 3rd, watch PUTT’s own Jason Wallace speaking on the proposed changes to Medicare Part D currently being considered by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Below is the full information. You can watch the livecast of the event on March 3rd here.

 

MEDICARE REFORM

Protecting Pharmaceutical Access and Services for Seniors Citizens throughout America

Over 35 million Americans receive drug benefits under Part D of the Medicare program.  In many respects, Medicare has been successful in improving access to vital medications for Senior Citizens and the disabled.

Join regulators, pharmacists, consumers and other experts in a lively discussion at the New America Foundation to discuss significant reforms proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to Part D and how these proposals will affect access and costs for millions of beneficiaries.

If you are unable to join us in person, please tune in to the live webcast. No signup is required to view the streaming video.

PARTICIPANTS

The program will include discussions with consumer groups, pharmacists, regulators and Congressional staff.

Participants include:

Rep. Sharon Treat (ME)
Executive Director for the National Legislative Association for Prescription Drug Prices
Cameron Bishop
Legislative Assistant for Rep. Mike Rogers (AL)
Dr. John Simpson
Principal Economist at The Brattle Group
Jason Wallace
President of the Board of Pharmacists United for Truth and Transparency
Susan Pilch
Vice President of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at National Community Pharmacists Association
Jeff Lurey

Director of the Georgia Pharmacy Association’s Academy of Independent Pharmacy (AIP)

Stacy Sanders
Federal Policy Director at the Medicare Rights Center

Errol Ogman
Health & Welfare Administrator for the Sergeants Benevolent Association
David Balto
Law Offices of David Balto
Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation
Former Policy Director at the Federal Trade Commission

Submitting Comments to CMS

As you all know by now, the Center for Medicare Services (CMS) has proposed a host of Medicare program changes that include modifications to Part D preferred pharmacy networks and to cost-sharing. Now we have the opportunity to speak up and tell CMS what we think of these changes — the opinions shared can help sway the final decision of CMS.

Between now and March 7th, CMS will accept comments on these proposed rule changes. Anyone can submit comments online (full instructions are below). Many pharmacists across the country have already submitted written comments, and we ask that you all do the same. Please also encourage others to submit comments before the March 7th deadline!

As a sample comment, modified from an NCPA template, here is Jason Wallace’s written comment.  **Please note that Jason has edited this document to reflect his opinion which may differ from NCPA. This is just a sample letter and we ask that you include your own personal examples where appropriate, including your experiences with preferred pharmacy networks, patient choice and access, and the need for increased transparency in the industry.** 

Instructions for Submitting Comments

Your comments should be submitted electronically via http://www.regulations.gov.

You will need to search for RIN: 0938-AR37 and then follow the “Comment Now” submission directions on the right side of your screen for “Medicare Program: Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs”.

The full proposed rule is online athttp://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CMS-2014-0007-0002.

The best way to submit a comment is to attach a document (Word or PDF) so as not to be limited in wordage by the text box.

The category you will be submitting under will be Health Care Professional/Association – Pharmacist.

Comments will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on March 7, 2014.

Note: Do not include any patient-specific, HIPAA-protected information in your comments.

Useful Links to Track CMS Rule Changes

These links will help you track the CMS’ timeline for rule changes, full text and summaries of the proposed changes, and full text of all comments submitted to-date:

PUTT President Responds to PCMA President in The Hill

Mark Merritt, President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, wrote a piece for The Hill last week expressing concern that regulations of preferred pharmacy networks would limit patient choice.

PUTT President, Jason Wallace, responded to this piece with a letter to The Hill today exposing the lack of choice that’s already apparent in these networks and their systematic exclusion of independent pharmacies.

Read it here: http://thehill.com/opinion/letters/191831-preferred-pharmacy-networks-limit-choices

FTC to keep a closer eye on PBM activity

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has said that it plans to keep a closer eye on PBM activity after extensive hearings evaluating the state of the industry following the Express Scripts/Medco merger. Commission members expressed concerns about the level of coordination in the industry.

Read the full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/03/usa-congress-ftc-idUSL2N0JI1JZ20131203

PUTT President on Pharmacy Podcast

Listen to Jason Wallace’s interview on Pharmacy Podcast today, where he discusses PBM reform and PUTT’s mission:

http://pharmacypodcast.com/one-step-closer-to-pbm-reform/

 

 

Avoiding Misleading PBM Contract Negotiation Guides

Read PUTT President Jason Wallace’s latest piece on Benefits Pro, where he exposes some of the misleading parts of URAC’s PBM contract negotiating guide.

http://www.benefitspro.com/2013/11/25/avoiding-misleading-pbm-contract-negotiation-guide

PUTT President in The Hill on Congressional PBM Concerns

PUTT President Jason Wallace weighs in on a House committee antitrust hearing last week that raised important concerns about PBM abuse.

Read his piece in The Hill here: http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/191083-lawmaker-exposes-pharmacy-benefits-abuses

Houston City Controller Catches PBM Wasting Tax Dollars

The City Controller of Houston released a press release last week stating that their contract with Cigna to handle their prescription medication program has cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Read the full release here.