As our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the second of four topics (the first two being current legislation) that are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:
H.R. – 4577: Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies
Similar to HR 4190, this legislation would amend the Social Security Act. It also focuses on the same Medicare beneficiary groups as follows: Medically Under-served Areas, Medically Under-served Populations, and Health Professional Shortage Areas. However, the bill is written to affect Part D of Medicare, or the part that is most often used in the pharmacy. Under the law, insurance plans would be required to offer preferred network benefits to pharmacies in the previously defined regions.
Although only introduced in last month, this legislation is also picking up steam and already has bipartisan support from 31 congressional representatives 4. Community pharmacies not in a preferred network currently have to either charge patients more for medications and/or net a loss from providing expected, quality care. An article from late 2013 suggested that there are approximately 1,800 pharmacies that are the only provider in their community. Also astounding is the fact that 91% of all community pharmacy owners and operators were non-preferred; on average, these patients then have to travel 20 miles to a pharmacy that can provide savings promised by their insurance plans 5.
How are YOU, the patient, affected?
Similar to H.R. 4190, patients across the country, including all five states where NuCara practices pharmacy, would benefit from increased access to affordable health care. The choice of where to pick up medications or seek health services should be left up to YOU, the patient, not an insurance plan! The restrictions this legislation absorbs directly improve the chances that your local pharmacy and trusted pharmacist will continue to provide exceptional health services and keep their doors open.