Kathleen Jaeger: Pharmacists 'stand ready to help'

Sunday, February 27, 2011

With issues like competitive bidding, diabetes mail order and reimbursement cuts posing threats to community pharmacists, it's a challenging time to take on the job of executive vice president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). But Kathleen Jaeger, who did just that in November, saw only a "wonderful opportunity." Jaeger, a pharmacist and lawyer by training, spoke with HME News recently about the future she sees for independent pharmacists.

HME News: Where do pharmacists fit into healthcare reform?

Kathleen Jaeger: As we have an influx of new patients coming into the system, we will have more and more demand for services. Pharmacists stand ready to help and be a natural extension of the primary care physician, who is already pretty saturated. They can work as a team with the patient as the focal point.

HME: The NCPA has a fairly new diabetes self-management training program for members.

Jaeger: The program is accredited through the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Under this program, CMS is recognizing pharmacies as qualified providers of these services. Pharmacists really are a wonderful resource, especially for patients with diabetes. Patients are more apt to share some personal information or issues they are having, whether it's shoes or wound care, with someone they know and trust.

HME: Does the push toward a national bid for mail order diabetes concern you?

Jaeger: Even though retail is carved out, CMS has defined the term mail order in such a way that retail can no longer provide delivery of testing supplies unless they are bid contractors. Preventing retail pharmacies from providing home delivery to the sick, the elderly or the homebound Part B beneficiaries is in no one's best interest.

HME: Can a small pharmacist compete against mail-order companies and big box stores?

Jaeger: They certainly pose a threat, undercutting community pharmacies in terms of DME pricing. But the community pharmacy provides special services that the chains don't normally offer. They also have a stronger relationship with the patients in their community. Ultimately, if we have the opportunity to compete on service, the independent community pharmacy will win hands down.