While preferred physician and hospital networks have long been used to reduce costs, there is a growing realization that pharmacy networks can also save money.

After all, there are more drugstores in the U.S. than McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Pizza Huts, Wendy’s, Taco Bells, Kentucky Fried Chickens, Domino’s Pizzas and Dunkin’ Donuts combined, creating a highly competitive environment

Today, more than 40 percent of seniors in Medicare Part D are enrolled in a plan with a preferred network. A new survey by Hart Research Associates shows that an overwhelming majority – 85 percent – of these seniors are satisfied with their plan’s pharmacy options. They cite lower out-of-pocket costs and convenient access to pharmacies as reasons they like their preferred pharmacy plan.

Notably, 80 percent of those seniors in preferred pharmacy plans – over 7 million seniors – would be very upset if their plan was no longer available in the future. Unfortunately, the drugstore lobby wants policymakers to prevent seniors from accessing these plans. Such an approach, however, will create a political backlash among millions of Medicare seniors.

Merritt is president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.