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DIR fee reform highlights NACDS conference

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Event also discussed front-end topics

PALM BEACH – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ campaign-style approach to the issues crucial for pharmacy value and viability dominated Monday’s opening session of the 2019 NACDS Regional Chain Conference.

Rebecca Bubel, 2019 NACDS Regional Chain Conference chair, and senior director of store operations, Kinney Drugs

NACDS’ top-priority issue of direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee reform headlined the discussion of the Association’s “Access Agenda” – which emphasizes that pharmacies provide access to health policy solutions, just as they provide access to vital health services every day in neighborhoods across the nation.

Mark Panzer, NACDS chairman of the board and senior vice president, pharmacy and health and wellness for Albertsons Cos., said, “NACDS talks about our Access Agenda, and its three parts: offense, defense, and addressing the wellbeing of our communities. On offense, we are enhancing access to newer services. When we talk about defense, we are talking about preserving patients’ access to care. And that means DIR fee reform. The third area – working as partners for stronger and safer communities – includes helping to solve opioid abuse. This remains an important issue, where we have seen progress and where we remain committed.”

“Across all of our NACDS issues and services, here is the message that I want to give to you today, and it’s from my view as the NACDS chairman and as an industry veteran. NACDS has never been better equipped to deliver the value that we as members expect, and need – even on the toughest of issues.”

NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson led an interactive discussion including members of the NACDS senior staff regarding advocacy on DIR fee reform, broader reimbursement issues, opioid-abuse prevention and expanding pharmacy’s scope of business.

“What we are not doing is just ‘working the issues,’” Anderson stated. “What we are doing is waging campaigns – tough campaigns. Working the issues is waiting for things to happen. Waging campaigns is making things happen, and doing so with everything we have – consistently, creatively, aggressively, passionately, cohesively, and as a modern political and advocacy organization.”

In the pursuit of DIR fee reform and other ways to help reduce patients’ out-of-pocket drug costs, Anderson emphasized building on the new 2018 law that bans “gag clauses” that previously prevented pharmacists from advising patients when they can save money by paying cash for prescriptions rather than using insurance. He cited data from a January 2019 survey conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS.

“Seventy-one percent of voters are more likely to support a Congressional candidate who reduces out-of-pocket prescription drug costs by acting on pharmacists’ recommendations,” Anderson said. “Seventy-nine percent of voters support the gag-clause prevention law, and 66 percent strongly support it. Building on that, 86 percent of voters support pharmacists using their expertise to identify other policy opportunities to help lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs.”

In addition to thoroughly discussing action on policy issues, NACDS’ leadership also emphasized the importance of chain-supplier collaboration – particularly in the rapidly transforming retail environment.

Panzer said, “There is no doubt, listening well helps NACDS deliver value on business community and intelligence. There is a group within NACDS – the Retail Advisory Board. It includes associate and chain members, and it helps the NACDS Board on front-end topics and issues. They work hard to address how diverse companies can meet each others’ needs through collaboration. They have helped to foster understanding about how regional chains can work with different types of suppliers. That thinking is helping companies reach common ground on partnership opportunities, setting strategies, and defining success.”

Rebecca Bubel, 2019 NACDS Regional Chain Conference chair and senior director of store operations for Kinney Drugs Inc., carried on a time-honored tradition of describing her company’s approach to pharmacy patient care – thus providing a testimonial of pharmacy’s role as the “face of neighborhood healthcare.” She also described the company’s commitment to collaboration with suppliers to meet consumers’ needs.

“To the regional chains here at this conference: take advantage of the ability to connect with your current business partners while establishing new relationships and seeking additional opportunities for collaboration,” Bubel said. “To our vendor partners: provide us with innovative products that will help us become more efficient, more effective, and add value to our business. Let’s work together to create win-win situations that will allow us to continue to grow our mutual businesses while meeting the needs of customers.”

The NACDS Regional Chain Conference brings together traditional drug and grocery chains with between four and 250 locations, and their supplier partners who help to meet consumers’ needs in health and wellness and throughout the store.

The 2019 Conference will further discussion and action on array of pharmacy, health and wellness, and broad front-end issues, including:

  • value-based pharmacy services and modernized payment models
  • a comprehensive array of legal and regulatory compliance issues
  • supply chain compliance
  • pharmaceutical trends
  • destination retailing
  • the health and wellness market
  • the many aspects of “disruption” in the retail environment
  • emerging trends in employment law
  • implications of NACDS’ opinion research for our advocacy strategies
  • current public health issues and implications for pharmacies.

The Conference also features productive One-to-One Business Conferences, a popular aspect of the schedule that fosters collaboration among NACDS chain and associate members.


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