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    Pharmacists Pushing for DIR Relief

    Community pharmacists fight against financial pressure for their survival.

     

    In addition, Humana’s Quality Network program, which started this year, assesses pharmacies $5 per Medicare Part D script filled. 

    However, Humana said that its new program will benefit community pharmacies. The insurer aims to provide a “true value-based preferred network opportunity that is based solely on widely-accepted standards of quality performance,” William Fleming, President of Humana Pharmacy Solutions, told Drug Topics last fall.

    “We believe that inclusion in our preferred networks will allow community pharmacies to better compete for Humana members, potentially increasing patient volume, while pushing forward a movement in community pharmacy in improving quality of care,” Fleming said.

    Related article: Impossible Task

    The program utilizes common pharmacy quality measures, including the rate of medication adherence for members taking diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol-lowering medications.

    The highest performing pharmacies in Humana’s Quality Network, regardless of chain or independent affiliation, are then rewarded at a higher level to recognize their superior performance. The highest performing pharmacies—those above the 80th percentile—receive up to $6 per eligible claim. Pharmacies in the 50th to 80th percentiles receive up to $2 per eligible claim.

    Is DIR relief on the way?

    Despite the current financial pressure of DIR fees, NCPA is optimistic that bipartisan legislation to prohibit them will be passed this year.

    In mid-February, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WVA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced Senate Bill 413, which would prohibit pharmacy DIR fees from being applied after the point-of-sale for prescription drugs dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries.  In the House, Representatives Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Peter Welch (D-VA) introduced a companion bill: H.R. 1038, the “Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Drug Spending Act.”

    Related article: New Legislation Aims to Prohibit DIR Fees     

    However, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) opposes the legislation. While the “House bill might increase drugstore profits, it would raise premiums for beneficiaries and increase costs for taxpayers,” the organization said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, NCPA is “encouraged by the bipartisan, bicameral support we are seeing so far,” Hoey said.

    The importance of legislation to ban retroactive pharmacy DIR fees was essentially confirmed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), according to NCPA. CMS recently released an analysis that illustrated how DIR fees can cost Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers more money and push seniors into the Medicare Part D donut hole more quickly, according to NCPA.

    “That is a game changer. It helps bring more focus on the issue as one that directly impacts seniors and taxpayers, in addition to community pharmacists. The attention to high prescription drug prices has also helped to shine a spotlight on the role PBMs play in adding costs to the system,” Hoey said.

    However, PCMA said that the CMS report actually highlights how DIR reduces premiums for beneficiaries, which also leads to lower costs for the federal government. “Stable and affordable premiums contribute to a 90% satisfaction rate among Part D enrollees for their drug plan,” the organization said in a statement. 

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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    • Anonymous
      PCMA lobbying to take premiums, DIR's and clawbacks away from hardworking americans. Transparency is needed from the pbm cartels now.
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