March 21, 2012
(Washington, DC)— While new 2012 Medicare Part D data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that plans with preferred pharmacy networks are now a popular choice among Medicare seniors, a new ad from the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) highlights how the drugstore lobby wants new legislation (H.R. 1971/S. 1058) stopping seniors from choosing these more affordable plans.
Enrollment in plans with preferred pharmacy networks has grown twice as fast as conventional plans and is offered by many of the largest Part D plan sponsors. Now almost a third of all beneficiaries are enrolled in a preferred pharmacy network plan, which can have premiums as low as $15 dollars a month and $0 dollar copays.
“Medicare seniors are choosing lower cost Part D plans with competitive pharmacy networks and turning away from drugstores that overcharge,” said PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt. “This is good news for seniors and the Medicare program, but another stumbling block for special interests fighting to stop Part D plans from offering seniors the choice of lower cost, high performance pharmacy networks.”
While the drugstore lobby pushes special interest legislation fighting lower cost pharmacy networks, a new national survey of independent pharmacists finds that Walgreens’ exit from key pharmacy networks is benefiting local drugstores and consumers who changed pharmacies. Independent pharmacists say former Walgreens’ consumers are more satisfied, switched pharmacies with ease, and still have many choices despite the absence of almost 8,000 Walgreens stores in their networks.
This new survey is consistent with recent news stories detailing how the Walgreens dispute has been a “boon” for local drugstores. Key findings from the national survey of independent pharmacy owners conducted by North Star Opinion Research are below (and here):
1. Seventy percent of the independent pharmacists with a Walgreens in their area have seen former Walgreens’ customers start filling prescriptions at their pharmacy in the last few months. These pharmacists say they have seen former Walgreens’ customers start filling prescriptions in their pharmacy by a 70 to 23 percent margin.
2. Three-fifths of the independent pharmacists with a Walgreens in their area say former Walgreens’ customers are more satisfied with their new pharmacies. By a 59 to 2 percent margin, independent pharmacists with a Walgreens in their area say former Walgreens’ customers are more satisfied with their new pharmacies (13 percent say they are just as satisfied and 25 percent do not know).
3. Independent pharmacists say they have benefited from the Walgreens contract dispute by a two-to-one margin. These pharmacists say independent pharmacies have benefited by a 50 to 24 percent margin, including a 57 to 22 percent margin among independent pharmacists with a Walgreens in their area.
4. Nearly all independent pharmacists say pharmacy customers have adequate access to pharmacies in their area. Independent pharmacists say customers in their area have adequate access to pharmacies by a 98 to 2 percent margin overall, including a 99 to 1 percent margin among pharmacists with a Walgreens in their area.
PCMA is also highlighting the clear choice policymakers in states across the country have in finding savings for their state’s Medicaid program: cut benefits for patients or billions in overpayments to independent drugstores. States and the federal government could save $33 billion over the next decade by cutting independent drugstore overpayments and modernizing pharmacy benefits to be more like those in Medicare and commercial plans.