National Consumers League

Health Advisory Council Newsletter | 2016 Q4

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Welcome to the Q4 issue of the Health Advisory Council Newsletter. Please read on for NCL policy updates, Member Q&A's and updates, and more.

We look forward to working with you in 2017!
Please consider renewing your Health Advisory Council membership for 2017 as NCL continues to convene diverse members of the healthcare community to share insights and develop strategies for patient access and education in the new administration. Thank you for your support in 2016. We look forward to continuing the conversation! 

events.png In case you missed it: NCL's Ensuring Consumer Access to Healthcare conference

In response to interest expressed by Health Advisory Council Members, NCL sponsored a November 16 conference at The National Press Club: Ensuring Consumer Access to Healthcare. The conference brought together patient and consumer advocates, healthcare professional organizations, pharmaceutical and healthcare industry representatives, health plans, and government officials for an engaging discussion of the impact of the election and consumers’ healthcare access problems and solutions.

Discussion panels included:

  • The 2016 Election: The Implications for Healthcare Access
  • The Move Towards Value-Based Healthcare to Improve Patients’ Access to Care
  • Improving Access to Care for the Underserved and Minority Populations, moderated by Dr. Regina Benjamin, 18th U.S. Surgeon General

Conference attendees particularly appreciated the diversity of the audience and speakers and the thought-provoking examination of the current health policy landscape. 

Minutes are available here.

1health_icon.png NCL Health Policy at Work 

MyHealthPlan.Guide launch. In October, in preparation for Open Enrollment, NCL and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) launched MyHealthPlan.Guide, a comprehensive online tool that informs, educates, and engages consumers to better understand how health insurance works. The site provides consumers with easy-to-access, straightforward information to determine the health insurance coverage that is right for them and how to best use it to meet their personal health needs.

Click here for more NCL health policy updates. 

1spotlight_icon.png Member spotlight

Get to know Health Advisory Council Members–Generic Pharmaceutical Association and Caregiver Action Network–with new Q&A's.

1members.png Updates on Member programs

Alliance for Aging Research
The Alliance for Aging Research released Spanish translations and subject chapters of its popular pocket films on Safe Selection, Use, Storage, and Disposal of OTC pain medications. The full-length English films were released earlier this year, and have received more than 110,000 collective views. The films include information on both acetaminophen and NSAIDs and walk the viewer through choosing an OTC pain medication that will be safe for them or their loved one, taking it safely and according to directions, tracking their use to avoid accidental overdose, storing it up and away and out of sight from young children, and disposing of it once it has expired or they no longer need it. The Alliance wanted to expand the impact of the films by translating them into Spanish, and by slicing them up into smaller sections for use in broader settings. The films are available in English here and in Spanish here, and the Alliance encourages you to use and share the films. The films, the translations, and their chapters were made possible by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., previously McNeil Consumer Healthcare.

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)
ASHP publishes controlled substances diversion prevention guidelines recommendations
On October 28, 2016 ASHP published the first set of national guidelines designed to help healthcare organizations devise and implement strategies to prevent the diversion of controlled substances. The guidelines include a framework for creating a collaborative, comprehensive controlled substances diversion prevention program (CSDPP) to protect patients, employees, organizations, and the community. A link to the guidelines can be found here: http://www.ashp.org/DocLibrary/BestPractices/MgmtGdlCSDiversion.aspx

ASHP continues push for expanded access to care in medically underserved areas
ASHP, as a lead member of the Patient Access to Pharmacists' Care Coalition (PAPCC), continues to push for support of legislation aimed at increasing access to care in medically underserved areas (H.R. 592, S. 314). Nearly 300 House members have signed-on to H.R. 592, and over 50 Senators have signed-on to S. 314. The bills would enable pharmacists to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries in medically underserved areas under Part B of the Medicare program. ASHP, and the PAPCC coalition are pleased to see the high bipartisan support of this legislation, and are seeking swift reintroduction of the bills in 2017. More information about the coalition can be found at: www.pharmacistscare.org.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)
Update on AHIP's Provider Directory Initiative: Earlier this year AHIP led a substantial pilot program to give consumers access to more accurate information when searching for a provider. We have reached the six-month mark, and found that strong partnership and active participation with physician practices is essential. However, physician practices often remain unaware of how important it is to update the information that consumers access online. Click here to learn more

Council for Affordable Health Coverage
The Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC), a not-for-profit, 501(c)(6) organization, will launch a national campaign in January to educate and raise awareness about prescription drug costs, and develop and advocate for a set of credible policy solutions designed to lower costs and improve value that both Democrats and Republicans can support. The campaign already includes leading payer, drug manufacturer, employer, patient, consumer, physician, and health care industry leaders, but we are encouraging all groups dedicated to advancing near-term solutions that improve the lives of patients across the nation to participate.

The campaign will:

  • Develop and advocate for bipartisan solutions;
  • Oppose proposals that shift costs, endanger patient safety, stifle markets, or raise society-wide costs; and
  • Educate policymakers and the public about the costs and value of prescription drugs.

CAHC believes the new Congress and Administration should implement policies that lower costs by stimulating competition, paying more for value, and improving transparency for consumers. Specifically, we support:

  • Changes to laws that will encourage value-based arrangements, which allow payers and manufacturers to link payment for a medicine to patient outcomes;
  • Allowing payers and manufacturers to communicate about products pre- and post-approval to improve premium setting and the coverage process;
  • Speeding more generics and brand drugs to market to improve competition and price negotiations;
  • Empowering consumers with information on formularies, cost-sharing, and appeals rights; and
  • Promoting health plan flexibility to foster disease-specific solutions.

We will also oppose bad ideas that shift costs, imperil patient safety, or that are unworkable.

We urge all stakeholders to help us vet, discuss, and advocate for these solutions. Fortunately, several legislative and regulatory vehicles are emerging to carry these ideas. Please contact Joel White or Sloane Salzburg at CAHC to discuss the campaign further. Joel may be reached at joel.white@cahc.net or at (202) 559-0192 and Sloane may be reached at sloane.salzburg@cahc.net or (202) 808-8855. 

FDA Office of Women’s Health
Fifty percent of pregnant women report taking at least one medication and the use of four or more medications during pregnancy has more than doubled over the last 30 years. In October, the FDA Office of Women’s Health released a new consumer publication on medication use during pregnancy. Available in English and Spanish, the Medicine and Pregnancy fact sheet outlines four tips to help pregnant women talk with their healthcare providers about prescription and over-the-counter medicines. To download a fact sheet or order free bulk copies, visit: www.fda.gov/womenshealthpubs 

Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA)
In October, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (GPhA) released a new study demonstrating the critical role that safe, effective and affordable generic medicines play in reducing costs to the overall health system, and increasing access to vital medications for patients and consumers. Compiled for GPhA by QuintilesIMS Institute, the annual Generic Drug Savings & Access in the United States Report found that generic drugs are 89% of prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. but only 27% of drug costs. The data also shows that generics have created over $227 billion in savings to the U.S. healthcare system in 2015, and over the last decade those savings total $1.46 trillion. Other key findings include Medicare savings of $67.6 billion in 2015, with savings of $1,737 per enrollee to the system, and Medicaid savings of $32.7 billion, which translates to savings of $450 per enrollee to the system. 

The report documents the level of savings generics provide across multiple segments, including by therapeutic area, payor type, patient age demographic, and on a state-by-state basis. With nearly 3.9 billion of the total 4.4 billion prescriptions being dispensed in the U.S. for generics, the data shows that when generic competition exists, prescription drug prices and healthcare costs come down rapidly and dramatically, and patient health improves.

National Community Pharmacists Association
In July 2016, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) announced the establishment of a new Innovation Center that is intended to further assist and speed up the evolution of independent community pharmacies in a changing health care environment.

At inception, the changes in the health care environment include:

  • a growing focus on value and quality based payments and declining product reimbursements;
  • the integration of health care providers including pharmacists;
  • an increase in consumer driven health care;
  • an increase in the services that are able to be provided in a community pharmacy setting; and
  • the influence of the digitalization of health care and business. 

The Innovation Center develops and executes programs to inform and educate community pharmacists to realize the opportunities in an evolving health care market. In addition, it will demonstrate, research and support new and expanded roles for community pharmacists. Specifically, this will be accomplished through peer-to-peer exchanges of best practices.

The Innovation Center welcomes the support and partnership of various stakeholders in the health care industry who support the organization’s mission of advancing pharmacy practice and patient care.

NCPIE Collaborates with the American Medical Association on a Medication Adherence Training Module
The National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) announces the development and production of an on-line training module for residents titled "Promoting Medication Adherence" in collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA, a NCPIE Board Member, operates a residency training program, Introduction to the Practice of Medicine (IPM). The training module was completed in August 2016 and added as a new resource to the educational library for medical resident education. The 28-minute interactive module was introduced to numerous institutions and is now available to approximately 20,000 residents and fellows. 

The objectives of the module include:

  • Discuss how the effectiveness of medication is impacted by non-adherence.
  • Describe the health and economic consequences of medication non-adherence.
  • Understand key patient and healthcare provider factors that contribute to medication non-adherence.
  • Formulate and implement a framework for prescription medication counseling to enhance adherence and management of medication-related problems.

NCPIE worked closely with content experts and the AMA's IPM program for over a year to develop the module. With the introduction of "Promoting Medication Adherence," there are now over 40 titles in the IPM library, including modules on Patient Safety, Effective Patient Communication, and Safe/Competent Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain. The medication adherence module includes an interactive lesson, testing of key concepts during the module, relevant downloads of primary concepts, post-assessment, evaluation and course certificate of completion. The IPM interactive, web-based and tablet compatible educational series helps residents and their institutions develop the competencies required by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). For information about the IPM program, click here. The module is available to subscribers of the IPM series. NCPIE gratefully acknowledges Merck & Co., Inc. for providing support for the development of this project and the advancement of the NCPIE Adherence Action Agenda (A3 Project)

Pfizer 
Ready for Cures
To help ensure that patients and their families are able to gain access to new critical, life-saving innovations, Pfizer has launched a new initiative called Ready for Cures. Ready for Cures is dedicated to improving access to life-saving medicines and fostering a public policy environment that supports healthcare innovation. In the coming months, Pfizer will be reaching out to potential members online via social media, email, and at pfizer.com/readyforcures. Please join at pfizer.com/readyforcures and share this with your members and network. Pfizer will keep members of the Ready for Cures community up to date on innovation and policies that impact access to medicines policy. 

SimplySync
Pfizer is sponsoring the SimplySync website to promote Medication Synchronization services, commonly known as Med Sync, now being provided by thousands of pharmacies across the country. Medication synchronization programs provide a platform for decreasing trips to the pharmacy, managing patient refills, and improving medication adherence. To help patients understand this patient care service, and to find a pharmacy near them that offers this service, Pfizer encourages organizations to help get the word out about the www.SimplySync.net website. For additional information on medication synchronization or the SimplySync website, please contact David Searle at david.w.searle@pfizer.com. 

Script Your Future – Ohio
The Script Your Future (SYF) effort in Ohio is being conducted by the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA) working with Ohio Colleges of Pharmacy. The primary action has happened at three universities as described below. OPA anticipates conducting a presentation in Columbus in the spring that will bring the groups together to present their efforts. Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy (NEOMED), the winner of the 2016 SYF Medication Adherence Team Challenge Health Disparities / Under-represented Community Outreach Award, focused its outreach on underserved populations and those with health disparities, addressing both economic and cultural barriers to medication adherence. Examples of NEOMED’s efforts include work in two free clinics, a medical mission trip to Honduras and outreach to Hispanic patients through an appearance on a local TV show, translation of the SYF PSA into Chinese and Russian, educational efforts in three underserved senior apartment complexes and outreach to underserved residents throughout Northeast Ohio. Ohio State College of Pharmacy students have been leading and engaging in discussions with Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio patients about chronic disease states such as hypertension, asthma/COPD, and diabetes and their current medications. Students provide patients with tools and advice to help them overcome barriers to medication adherence. Ohio Northern University students each complete 40 hours of health-related outreach in collaboration with a pharmacist preceptor. The outreach program is a component of ONU Healthwise, which includes community outreach, employee and student wellness, drug and health information (DHIC) services and mobile clinic services. Much of the efforts of the students in the community are directed locally and include monthly screenings, health fairs, presentations to local organizations, and participation in various community-wide health related organizations and events. 

1listen.png We want to hear from you!

Online Members-only discussion board – We encourage you to take advantage of the online Members-only communications portal, where Members may share news, suggestions, and ideas directly with each other. Log on here. If you haven't already, you will be instructed to create an account in order to view discussion items. The Members-only forum is only visible to people who have been given access privileges.

Thank you for your continued interest in the Health Advisory Council!
Please stay in touch! Feel free to contact Karin Bolte (karinb@nclnet.org) or Amy Sonderman (amys@nclnet.org).

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National Consumers League
Published December 13, 2016