Today Congressman Berry (D-Ark.) and Congressman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined community pharmacy officials and a community pharmacy owner to discuss the effect Medicaid generic prescription drug reimbursement cuts, based on an unfair average manufacturer price (AMP) formula, would pose to pharmacies and patients. This threat would be detrimental to patients, especially in rural areas, who depend on community pharmacies as their primary form of medical advice.
"Community pharmacists are front line medical professionals that provide services crucial to rural areas like Arkansas' First District," said Berry. "Unfortunately, due to unfair pricing and slow reimbursement rates, community pharmacists are evaporating. Fixing AMP is important so that pharmacists can receive adequate reimbursements for Medicaid prescriptions ensuring consumers continued access to their community pharmacies."
In 2006, the Government Accountability Office released at study that under the new Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) formula, pharmacists would be reimbursed approximately 36% below pharmacy acquisition costs. Operating at this net loss will force pharmacies from state Medicaid networks, resulting in less care available for patients. Since community pharmacies have a higher percentage of Medicaid patients then their chain competitors and are often located in underserved communities, each of those scenarios would have a devastating impact for people living in rural areas who depend on community pharmacies.
Currently, the House and Senate are in the process of combining the two different versions of the health care bill, which passed at the end of 2009. These bills include different solutions for restoring portions of the cuts to Medicaid generic prescription drug reimbursements. Both versions would be an improvement above the current Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services formula, which would not come close to covering the costs of acquiring the prescription drugs.
"Any business that is forced to operate at a net loss will not be around for long," said Berry. "These arbitrary rules unfairly punish community pharmacies and the effects of this will ultimately force many of them to close their doors. The victims will be the individuals who will no longer have access to an important medical professional, which is why we must address this issue immediately in health care reform."