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Health Insurance Plans and Pharmacists Launch National Medicare Part D Education Campaign

October 12, 2006 Contact: Mohit Ghose 202-778-8494, Carol Cooke, NCPA, (703) 838-2686, John Covert, NACDS, (703) 837-4167

AHIP, NACDS, and NCPA Unveil New Medicare Drug Plan Guide

(Washington, DC) In a coordinated effort to ensure that seniors make informed health coverage decisions, health insurance plans and community pharmacists today launched a new national educational campaign to help Medicare beneficiaries evaluate their prescription drug plan choices for 2007.

As the centerpiece of this campaign, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), unveiled a new interactive Medicare prescription drug plan guide. The guide, Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Guide: How to Choose Your 2007 Plan, provides Medicare beneficiaries and their loved ones with an easy-to-use resource to assist in evaluating their prescription drug plan.

Developed with direct feedback from seniors, the guide uses a unique color-coded system to help beneficiaries choose the specific plan that best meets their individual needs. This comprehensive guide educates seniors about Medicare prescription drug coverage, examines their personal priorities and preferences, and helps them navigate through the different plan options.

Health insurance plans and pharmacists are committed to providing seniors with the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions, said Karen Ignagni, President and CEO, of AHIP. While every survey shows that seniors are highly satisfied with their current coverage, choices available in the coming year could mean that some seniors need extra help in evaluating the new options to find the plan that best meets their needs this guide will help them do that.

We are pleased to participate in this very important educational effort to help Medicare beneficiaries choose a Part D plan that is best for them, said Robert W. Hannan, President and CEO of NACDS. So many Medicare beneficiaries turn to their community pharmacist for advice in choosing a plan, and this guide will give the pharmacist another tool in helping Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers reach this objective.

Millions of seniors and their families look to their community pharmacist to help them sort through their Medicare options, said Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, NCPA Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. As we approach the new plan year, we're glad to have this guide available to help our patients pick the prescription drug plan that best suits their needs and provides ready access to their medications and the expert advice of their community pharmacist.

The guide will be distributed nationwide to local pharmacists, chain drug stores, Congressional district offices, and State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) offices and will be available online at www.healthdecisions.org/guide. The NACDS Foundation has contributed resources for this educational tool. Health care professionals and local pharmacists can use this guide to provide much needed educational assistance to seniors who are evaluating their current prescription drug plans and making decisions about future coverage.

This campaign is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts between health insurers and pharmacists to improve the Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors and providers. Recently, AHIP, NACDS, and NCPA worked together to simplify and standardize the electronic claims processing messages going from plan sponsors to pharmacies and along with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the formation of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance to set standards for quality that can lead to better patient outcomes.

America's Health Insurance Plans Providing Health Benefits to More Than 200 Million Americans

The National Community Pharmacists Association, founded in 1898 as the National Association of Retail Druggists, represents the nations community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 24,000 pharmacies. The nations independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises, and independent chains dispense nearly half of the nation's retail prescription medicines.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) represents the nations leading retail chain pharmacies and suppliers, helping them better meet the changing needs of their patients and customers. Chain pharmacies operate more than 37,000 pharmacies, employ 114,000 pharmacists, fill more than 2.3 billion prescriptions yearly, and have annual sales of nearly $700 billion.

To view the Guide: www.healthdecisions.org/guide

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