Medicare patients deserve better pharmacy choices

From B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the 
National Community Pharmacists 
Association

An opinion article advocating more restrictions on patient choice through “preferred pharmacy” networks in health plans (“Leveraging pharmacy networks to drive down health care costs,” Sept. 9) omitted several important facts.

First, some preferred network plans in Medicare Part D are costlier than traditional networks that foster competition based on service to patients. That is, while patients are steered to select pharmacies through the promise of lower co-pays, taxpayers and Medicare may incur higher total costs. This has been raised by Medicare, which concluded that, due to increased enrollment in these plans, the impact of these higher costs on the program as a whole is likely to become increasingly significant. These concerns have been echoed by groups such as Medpac, as well as 19 U.S. senators and 31 members of the House of Representatives.

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Additionally, patients in rural areas experience access issues because many rural communities rely on independent community pharmacies, which are usually denied access to “preferred” status. The closest “preferred” pharmacy could be 20 miles away or more.

A common-sense solution would be to enhance competition in these plans and allow any pharmacy willing to meet the terms and conditions of being a preferred pharmacy (including pricing) to do so and let the patient decide on a pharmacy that best suits their needs.
Alexandria, Va.

Focus on issues at home

From Michael Pravica
At a time when Colorado is suffering from historic flooding and a portion of our nation’s Capitol has been under siege, resulting in a tragic loss of lives, (“Report: Navy Yard shooter suffered from ‘serious mental issues,’ ” Sept. 17.), can we really afford to send troops to a faraway land [Syria], where we have little interest and where we run the risk of supporting “rebels” who may only come back to bite us and cause yet more violence here in the form of blowback? On top of that, many of the soldiers we send away end up suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and create many problems when they return. Perhaps we need to consider a moratorium on our quixotic adventures abroad. 

It’s time for American leaders to come to their senses and focus on serving the people who elected them. We also need ascertain why shooter Aaron Alexis retained his security clearance despite having “serious mental issues.”
Henderson, Nev.

It’s time for Congress to act on gun control laws

From Karen Ann DeLuca
When Gabrielle Giffords was shot, I thought for sure Congress would act on gun control legislation. After all, she was one of their own.
Nope.

Subsequently, there were other mass shootings, and cities with increases in individual homicides — Chicago comes to mind — all provoking rhetorical rubbernecking, a passing, pensive pause replete with maligning monikers but no affirmative, ameliorative action.

And then came Newtown, where most of the victims were very young children. Surely, that would get our lawmakers to champion the cause, the politicians and babies thing.

And it did, for a while, until it didn’t.
Now we have the Navy Yard, a stone’s throw from Capitol Hill. During that massacre and its immediate aftermath, the Senate went on “lockdown,” and then left early. The House wasn’t even in session.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he doesn’t have the votes to pass gun control legislation. If that is true, who are the cowards NOW?
Alexandria, Va.

Thumbs up for cutting food stamp funding

From Jacqualine Tomlinson
Congratulations to lawmakers for taking a big step in the right direction for our country (“House votes to fund government, defund ObamaCare,” Sept. 20).

We all know people will take any handout that is offered but often not needed. If you are going to give it to me, hey I’ll take it.  

Food stamps and free lunches turned into such an abused program that started out with good intentions. It’s sad, as there are so many programs that need to be funded (health, education, job training).

This is a small step getting people back to work and giving them the grace and dignity to take care of themselves. Children learn from their parents.

You did a good thing today. Please keep going in this direction to move funds where they are needed and cutting the abuse.

SNAP cuts will hurt kids

From Denny Freidenrich
Shame on House members for cutting $40 billion in food stamp relief (“House votes to fund government, defund ObamaCare,” Sept. 20). The vast majority of those who will be hurt the most are children who, by not fault of their own, have parents who are poor.

I understand the thinking behind Thursday’s vote; however, I do not endorse it. If you ask me, there is a simple, three-letter fix to the problem. It’s called a job. Logic dictates that the more people who are working, the fewer people there will be on food stamps.

Let’s hope the $40 billion cut from the food stamp program is reallocated to a new jobs bill. If that is the case, then I’ll be happy to say, “job well done.”
Laguna Beach, Calif.