Bring real consumer choice back to Medicare Part D

B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, notes that according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Medicare Part D program has 746 prescription drug plans. "Add to this, Medicare Part D 'preferred pharmacy' plans, which advertise attractive 'savings' for seniors. But there is a catch," he says.

B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, notes that according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Medicare Part D program has 746 prescription drug plans. "Add to this, Medicare Part D 'preferred pharmacy' plans, which advertise attractive 'savings' for seniors. But there is a catch," he says. "Unfortunately, many beneficiaries are lured into the plans by promised 'savings,' only to receive an unwelcome surprise once they start using these plans: they learn that their favored local pharmacy is not in the preferred network." Hoey points out there are approximately 22,000 independent community pharmacies in the United States, "many in underserved areas that tend to lack the 'preferred pharmacy' tag because they don't have the influence with PBMs and plan sponsors that tend to create these plans. As a result, seniors in most instances pay higher copays if they choose to continue getting their prescription drugs from their longtime neighborhood pharmacy." Hoey calls on Congress to pass the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act of 2017, which would allow pharmacies located in medically underserved areas to participate in Part D "preferred pharmacy" networks, provided they accept the contract terms and conditions under which in-network providers operate.