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Mediclinic News : Pharmacy body fights closed network


Pharmacy body fights closed network




News Description

BUSINESS LIVE The Independent Community Pharmacy Association, which represents the interests of independent pharmacies, is taking Fedhealth to court for going ahead with plans to introduce a closed pharmacy network. This will force the medical aid scheme’s members to obtain their chronic medication from selected pharmacies, failing which they will have to pay a 40 percent penalty co-payment. The appeal board of the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has already instructed the regulator to investigate the closed network principle. The association has been trying for five years to break what it regards as the power of medical aid schemes to set up closed network systems. Its first challenge to the council was dismissed, but the appeal board mandated the medical schemes council to probe the closed network and the penalty co-payment mechanisms. The CMS promised to publish a discussion policy document to resolve the issue. However, Independent Community Pharmacy Association CEO Mark Payne said the CMS has not demonstrated that it is investigating the matter, or published the proposed legislative changes it promised. The association intends to go to the High Court to compel the CMS to make a ruling. The law allows designated service providers for medical schemes and co-payments, but says nothing about closed networks and penalty co-payments. Payne said independent pharmacy groups were being marginalised because medical schemes implemented closed networks that restricted medical aid members to consulting with doctors and pharmacies selected by the scheme. He said a scheme like Fedhealth is saying that paying members cannot get medication from any pharmacy - they must get it from corporate pharmacies or incur a 40 percent extra payment on chronic medication. The association argues that this practice removes customers’ choice and limits the standard of care. An open system allows any pharmacy to join a medical scheme’s network and provide services at particular prices. Payne said the association does not object to designated service providers being appointed but objects to them being closed to specific service providers. He said that with National Health Insurance coming, we need to have as many healthcare professionals on board to drive this process - not marginalise about 2 000 pharmacists in favour of 266 corporate pharmacies. Payne said there were inconsistencies in Fedhealth’s proposal. Patients can receive chronic medication in the post and acute medication from their local pharmacies. These systems don’t speak to each other, he said. Medical aid schemes attempt to keep costs down by directing members to specific pharmacy chains. But the Independent Community Pharmacy Association argues that patient outcome is a more important issue than which professional helps them. Bonitas Medical Fund and Polmed, the police service medical aid, use the designated service provider system. Fedhealth spokeswoman Julie Keenan said the scheme was acting “within legal bounds” and was not aware of any planned court action against it.
Created at 2016/12/20 01:52 PM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2016/12/20 01:52 PM by Mediclinic