In Walmart-Humana: An Inevitable Surprise for Pharmacies and PBMs, I explain the economics and strategy behind the Humana Walmart Preferred Rx Plan. However, I neglect to discuss NCPA’s press release reaction: Walmart Medicare Drug Plan a Prescription for Poor Pharmacy Care.
Just my $0.02, but I think NCPA is serving its members poorly with its complaints and threats instead of an upbeat, positive message to consumers, manufacturers, and the media about independent pharmacies. What do you think?
Here are just a few of the statements that struck me as being particularly off-key in NCPA's press release along with my observations:
- “…patients are being financially coerced to get their medications at Walmart stores…” (Coerced? Actually, a consumer can willingly pay a premium to receive presumably superior service at 58,000 other pharmacies. And a consumer without access to a local Walmart pharmacy would simply choose a different PDP, right?)
- “As NCPA reviews the Walmart plan, we intend on reading the fine print. For example, we want to ensure the plan adheres to Medicare's marketing and plan guidelines.” (Is NCPA implying some type of legal action? Or am I misinterpreting this vaguely threatening statement?)
- “Patients taking a brand name drug or who can't or don't want to take a therapeutic substitute for the drug their doctor prescribed may see little, if any, savings.” (This awkward statement appears to be false based on my review of the plan document.)
Here’s a more useful remark from NCPA's press release: “…patients continue to give Walmart pharmacies very poor marks.”
True! Walmart once again scored very low in the latest J.D. Power and Associates 2010 National Pharmacy Study.
So, why bother attacking Walmart and Humana for a plan that will save money for some seniors? It comes across as a transparently self-serving effort to support the profits of pharmacy owners.
Instead, why doesn’t NCPA appeal clearly to the segment of Part D consumers who are willing to pay for more personalized customer service at an independent pharmacy? Where is the positive message to the seniors who are able to pay a little more for their prescriptions?
How about sponsoring a campaign to convince seniors with enough disposable income to spend more and get more? Maybe something like "Spend money, Live Better"?
Just sayin'. I'm curious to hear your comments below if you think I've misread the press release.
P.S. Photo above from the always entertaining Mental Floss t-shirt collection.