I believe the choice to use a community pharmacy over a mail-order pharmacy should belong to patients, not the insurance companies. This view is also shared by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). I will be joining NCPA and other community pharmacists in Washington D.C on May 10th to discuss this with lawmakers. Community pharmacies are vital partners in ensuring optimal care for our patients. Many pharmacies, like ourselves, offer a variety of programs and services in addition to filling prescriptions, such as Medication Therapy Management (MTM), immunizations, health screenings, home medical equipment and services, and more. Community pharmacists are just that: members of the communities we serve. We are committed to our patients; we hope to form long-lasting relationships built on trust and the mutual desire to improve health and quality of life. When patients are forced to fill prescriptions through mail-order pharmacies, these strong ties are severed, and the quality of care is reduced.
The now-common trend with prescription insurance coverage is the ability to fill and pay for a three month supply of medications at one time. However, many patients are being told they can only receive this benefit through mail-order pharmacies. Patients still have the ability to fill their medications at their local community pharmacies, but are often penalized with a higher payment. This is not surprising. Insurance companies and PBM’s (pharmacy benefit managers) own these mail order pharmacies and use leverage to steal patients away from local pharmacies. The result: billions in profits for PBM’s (that’s right: billions) without regard to the effect it has on patient care and health outcomes.
Lehan Drugs wants to give you a voice in Washington to help shape the future of pharmacy in America. I truly believe that community pharmacists are in the strongest position to ensure patients receive the attention that is needed for successful health outcomes. I will be attending meetings in Washington in May to discuss this issue with our country’s leaders.
If you would like to join the fight to ensure your right to use the pharmacy of your choosing, visit www.Fight4Rx.org.
Tim Lehan, RPh
Here’s a little more information on NCPA’s campaign to protect your right to use your local pharmacy:
NCPA Launches Fight4Rx Online Grassroots Community
ALEXANDRIA, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has launched Fight4Rx.org, which is dedicated to recruiting and transforming patients into grassroots activists for community pharmacies by educating them on the vital role pharmacists play and the serious challenges they face in the delivery of health care.
“America’s patients and their families greatly value their community pharmacists and the personalized services they provide,” said Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, executive vice president and CEO of NCPA. “Fight4Rx patients will have a new forum during the health care reform debate in Washington, DC. They will be able to research issues and speak directly to their legislators about key concerns affecting their access to prescription medication and services by their local community pharmacies.”
Although the health care bill has passed, debate and changes will continue. Fight4Rx includes issue briefs on pharmacy patient issues, Medicare and health care news updates, and a video blog on the home page (www.Fight4Rx.org) with regular updates from pharmacy industry experts. Patients will receive a monthly e-mail newsletter that will update them on key pharmacy issues and news about the latest breaking news. When necessary, Fight4Rx will encourage patients to contact their elected officials (via a 1-800 number or e-mail).
“I believe the Fight4Rx online community will lead us to fair and common-sense health care policies in the United States by empowering patients to let their voices be heard in establishing the pharmacy home of their choice,” said Holly Henry, RPh, NCPA president and Seattle, Washington pharmacy owner.
The National Community Pharmacists Association, founded in 1898, represents the nation’s community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 pharmacies. The nation’s independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises, and independent chains dispense nearly half of the nation’s retail prescription medicines. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org.
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