November Leg Update: Online Rx Regs, TriCare Choice Plan, New Medicare Website
Congressman Charlie Wilson Visits Bellaire Pharmacy
U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson visited Save Rite Pharmacy in Bellaire, Ohio to talk with independent pharmacists Phil Pata, Jr. and Phil Pata, Sr. about the valuable services independent community pharmacies provide their patients, and how low and slow payment reimbursements for prescription drugs from federal programs, pharmaceutical companies' price monopolies and the loss of neighborhood pharmacies are negatively affecting consumers. The Patas thanked Rep. Wilson for taking the lead on the tamper-resistant paper issue and successfully delaying the implementation of the legislation for six months. In addition, he supported the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 which delays implementation of drastic Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement cuts until September 2009.
OPA would like to personally thank Rep. Wilson for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to meet with us and listen to the concerns of pharmacists, and for all his efforts on behalf of pharmacy.
Congress Passes Legislation to Regulate Online Pharmacy
The U.S. House and Senate both passed legislation to crack down on online pharmacies that dispense controlled substances. The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (H.R. 6353) amends the Controlled Substances Act to prohibit the delivery, distribution, or dispensing of controlled substances over the Internet without a valid prescription. The bill:
- requires a valid prescription for controlled substances dispensed via the Internet;
- defines a valid prescription as one issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner who has conducted at least one in-person medical evaluation of the patient;
- exempts from the definition of "online pharmacy" pharmacies that limit their Internet-generated dispensing to schedule III, IV, and V controlled substances;
- requires online pharmacies to register with the Attorney General to dispense controlled substances via the Internet;
- requires pharmacies that dispense in a month a certain amount of controlled substances to report to the Attorney General the total monthly quantity;
- requires specific contact information (including a pharmacist-in-charge) on the pharmacy's web site;
- requires the pharmacy to comply with federal and state laws and notify Boards of Pharmacy before doing business in their state;
- creates penalties for violating this section; and
- authorizes the Attorney General to take action in a state.
To read more about H.R. 6353, go to http://capwiz.com/aphanet/issues/bills/?bill=12040481.
Pharmacy Choice for TRICARE Beneficiaries Now Backed by Law
The National Defense Authorization Act for 2009 was recently signed into law by President George W. Bush, assuring that TRICARE beneficiaries maintain the option to use the pharmacies of their choice. The legislation also extends a retail-pharmacy co-payments freeze that is currently in effect.
The enactment of this legislation will help ensure TRICARE beneficiaries are not penalized for using their local pharmacy, and enable them to choose where they access their prescription medications and other pharmacy services. In addition to providing convenience and accessibility, retail pharmacists can help to increase medication compliance, resulting in overall better health outcomes and a potential reduction in spending in other parts of the TRICARE program. Previous reports have shown that TRICARE beneficiaries are more likely to go to retail pharmacies to have prescriptions filled.
Medicare Launches Website to Help You Help Your Patients
Medicare just launched a new feature on their website, called Ask Medicare. This section is specifically for caregivers. This website includes Medicare basics, help on long-term care plans, options for at-home or facility care, and resources for local support.
The Ask Medicare website will provide links to key partner organizations that assist caregivers and beneficiaries, and present personal stories from caregivers in the community. Support information and tools to help caregivers address common problems will also be available. As part of the initiative, CMS will launch an e-newsletter for caregivers that will deliver information into subscribers' email boxes.
For more information about Medicare's new caregiver initiative, please visit: http://www.medicare.gov/caregivers.
If you have any questions or comments about the issues mentioned in this article, please contact Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs, at 614.586.1497 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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