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Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Cards: What You Must Know TODAY!
Sunday, April 18, 2004 at 1:30 p.m.
Following the OPA Annual Conference
Greater Columbus Convention Center
400 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio

In November Congress passed Medicare Prescription legislation that will have a very significant impact on pharmacy practice. A number of provisions from that bill take effect immediately, and pharmacists in all practice sites will be expected to have a working knowledge of the legislation in order to advise Medicare patients. The large number of cards, the fact that low income people will be eligible for $600 of actual payment for medications, and the fast-moving nature of the legislation, all contribute to a tremendous amount of consumer confusion. This seminar will attempt to alleviate as much of that confusion as possible.

On March 25, 2004, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the approval of 28 private sponsors to provide Medicare-approved drug discount cards beginning June 1. All Medicare beneficiaries, except those who already receive outpatient drugs through Medicaid, will be able to enroll in a discount card program starting in May. The interim card program will take effect June 1 and will be in effect until the entire Medicare drug legislation takes effect in 2006. The card providers may charge an annual enrollment fee of up to $30. The cards will provide a $600 annual credit to eligible low-income Medicare beneficiaries. Individuals whose income is less than $12,569 each year or married couples whose income is less than $16,862 may qualify. CMS has been evaluating the 101 applications they received, and recently selected the 28 card sponsors.

One of the interesting parts of this implementation will be the role of the pharmacist in participating in the direct marketing of certain cards. Pharmacists will hear directly from several of the program sponsors who will market their discount cards through pharmacies. OPA will also provide as thorough a list as possible of the various programs that have been approved by Medicare.

Two national pharmacy associations have been invited to this seminar to provide information on the cards they are sponsoring. National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has partnered with Ohio’s MemberHealth, Inc. and the Computer Sciences Corporation to market the Community Care Rx Medicare Discount Card. Also given the stamp of approval was the Pharmacy Care Alliance, which is a partnership between the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and PBM Express Scripts. Another Ohio company, PBM Plus, Inc. of Cincinnati, has also been approved to offer a card.

Here is a complete list of the private sponsors approved for the Medicare Drug Discount Card: Aetna Health Management, LLC; Caremark Advantage, Inc.; Catalyst Rx; Medco Health Solutions, Inc.; PBM Plus, Inc.; PharmaCare Management Services, Inc.; Pharmacy Care Alliance, Inc.; Scrip Solutions, LLC; SXC Health Solutions, Inc.; United Healthcare Insurance Co.; WellPoint Pharmacy Management; Express Scripts, Inc.; Argus Health Systems, Inc.; Computer Sciences Corp.; WHP Health Initiatives, Inc.; AdvancePCS Health, L.P.; First Health Services Corp.; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama; Sierra Health and Life Insurance Co., Inc.; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc.; Prime Therapeutics, Inc.; Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc.; UPMC Health Plan; Independence Blue Cross, Inc.; Long Term Care Pharmacy Alliance, LLC.
Not all of these companies will be marketing a card in Ohio. We plan to let you know which ones will be active in Ohio.

Pharmacists Attending This Seminar Will Be Able To:
Describe the provisions of the newly-passed federal Medicare law mandating the issuance of “discount drug cards” that become effective June of this year;

Develop an implementation plan to assist patients in the evaluation and selection of an appropriate card for their situation;

Evaluate the impact of accepting various discount cards in the pharmacist’s practice;

Summarize action steps that should be taken in the individual pharmacy practice to deal with this new program.

This two-hour seminar is for informational purposes. Some of the speakers will be discussing the marketing fees that will be available to pharmacists for marketing their programs, which makes the programming ineligible for CE credit if the speakers are to be thorough in providing critical financial information to you. However, those registering for this seminar are eligible to attend the four-hour Sunday morning Annual Conference CE programs for no additional charge.

Pharmacists already registered for the entire OPA Annual Conference (or the Sunday session) will not need to pay any further fee. Any pharmacist wishing to attend this meeting will only pay the one-day conference fee of $79, and may attend any other programming offered Sunday morning as well. (For a full description of Annual Conference programming, $$LinkToNews213,4.)


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