Arlington, Va. – Emphasizing the importance of quality and affordability, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) urged the Senate Committee on Finance Chronic Care Working Group to look to pharmacy in providing accessible, cost-effective preventive health services that can improve care for Medicare patients with chronic conditions. This week NACDS submitted a letter to the working group following a request for recommendations to improve chronic care for Medicare patients.
Through personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations and convenient access to preventive care services, local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow—in partnership with doctors, nurses, and others.
“Community pharmacies and pharmacists provide access to prescription medications and over-the-counter products, as well as cost-effective health services such as immunizations and disease screenings. Access to these types of services is especially vital for Medicare beneficiaries as nearly two-thirds are suffering from multiple chronic conditions,” NACDS wrote in the letter.
In its letter, NACDS stressed the importance of a team-based approach to treat chronic illness. With medications serving as the primary intervention of chronic disease and involved in 80 percent of all treatment regiments, it’s becoming even more critical for healthcare professionals to work together in the best interest of patients.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that when physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals work collaboratively, better health outcomes are achieved,” NACDS wrote in its letter.
In addition, NACDS cited that the lack of pharmacist recognition as a provider by third-party payors, including Medicare, has limited the number and types of services pharmacists can provide, even though they are fully qualified to do so.
“The adoption of policies and legislation to increase access to much-needed services for underserved Americans, such as S. 314, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, would allow Medicare Part B to utilize pharmacists to their full capability by providing those underserved beneficiaries with services not currently reaching them,” NACDS stated in its letter.
NACDS also urged increased utilization of Medication Therapy Management (MTM) in Medicare Part D to help ensure access to services for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. A number of studies have shown that MTM improves medication adherence and leads to better uses of medicines.
“We believe statutory changes should be made to revise the eligibility requirements so that beneficiaries with certain single chronic conditions will be eligible for MTM,” NACDS wrote.
“Through personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations and convenient access to preventive care services, local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow—in partnership with doctors, nurses, and others,” NACDS wrote.