NACDS Calls Baucus Bill ''Must-Enact Legislation''

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Hails AMP-cut delay, e-prescribing and Medicare Part D prompt pay provisions

Today, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President and CEO Steven C. Anderson issued the statement below following the introduction of Senate legislation (S. 3101) by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), which contains key pharmacy provisions.

"Today marks an important step for the nation's pharmacies, but we have a long road ahead. This bill is must-enact legislation, for pharmacies' vitality, patients' health and the economic wellness of communities.

"The delay until September 2009 of Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement cuts will provide more time to provide a long-term solution to the pharmacy reimbursement model, which would reimburse pharmacies below cost for Medicaid prescriptions. It also removes imminent financial peril facing many pharmacies.

"A recent state-by-state economic impact study released by NACDS and the Food Marketing Institute revealed that more than 11,000 pharmacies could close nationwide due to these dramatic, below-cost cuts in the Medicaid reimbursement rates. These pharmacies account for over 300,000 jobs and $31.1 billion in economic output. This is clearly a healthcare issue and an economic issue.

"The provision that requires prompt payments for Medicare prescriptions also is important for pharmacies, which have been subject to lower and slower payments.

"We also are pleased that the legislation includes provisions that will encourage physician adoption of e-prescribing, a critical health information technology (HIT) system that fosters secure two-way communication between pharmacies and other healthcare providers, for the enhanced medication therapy and safety of patients.

"We are facing the forced closure of pharmacies if this bill is not enacted. That means health consequences, emergency room visits and catastrophic care when patients do not take their medications, and lost economic activity and jobs in communities.

"We commend Chairman Baucus for introducing this important legislation. This further demonstrates his support of pharmacy on this issue, which also was reflected in his introduction of the Fair Medicaid Drug Payment Act (S. 1951). We also thank Senators Olympia Snowe (D-ME), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) for their original co-sponsorship of S. 3101. We are committed to helping to build continued and growing support in both parties, and at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, for this bill. The bottom line is that it must be enacted."

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchandisers with pharmacies. Its approximately 200 chain member companies include regional chains with a minimum of four stores to national companies. NACDS members also include approximately 1,000 suppliers of pharmacy and front-end products, and approximately 100 international members representing more than 30 countries. Chains operate more than 39,000 pharmacies, and employ a total of more than 2.7 million employees, including 118,000 pharmacists. They fill nearly 2.5 billion prescriptions yearly, and have annual sales of over $750 billion. For more information about NACDS, visit http://www.NACDS.org .

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Chrissy Kopple
NACDS
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