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NACDS NEW CHAIRMAN HELLER PLEDGES CONTINUED EMPHASIS ON COALITION-BUILDING IN MEDICARE DEBATES; MAY's DRUG EXEC PROMISES ATTENTION TO SMALL CHAINS

Executive Summary

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores' incoming chairman, Gerald Heller (May's Drug), pledged continued interest in coalition-building for upcoming Medicare policy debates in his inaugural speech at the NACDS annual meeting in Palm Springs, California May 7-10. Noting that "coalitions were a tremendous help to us during the Medicare legislation . . . last year," Heller stated that "NACDS has acquired a respected power base on a wide variety of issues and we intend to use that base to get our message across even more forcefully." For example, Heller said: "We believe the industry should get a fair shake on the 1988 catastrophic Medicare legislation. We will fight for fair and reasonable treatment on reimbursement. We believe that Medicare should adopt technology already in use in our industry." Heller's remarks were in line with the "vision" of NACDS outlined by outgoing chairman Stewart Turley (Jack Eckerd) in an earlier address. "The NACDS of the future will be expert at building coalitions to address important challenges," Turley said. "A group of interested parties bound together in a coalition can have a much more effective voice in Washington and in the states." Turley pointed out that during the development of the Catastrophic Care legislation, "we led a coalition of pharmacy-related groups that didn't just blow a lot of smoke but helped to write the law itself." He added: "In fact, Sen. Bentsen [D-Texas] told me personally how effective NACDS was on this issue." Two examples of successful lobbying on the part of NACDS with other pharmacy groups are the Act's use of AWP for reimbursement and the deletion of a proposal to discount reimbursements to high volume pharmacies. NACDS joined NARD and APhA in persuading Rep. Waxman (D-Calif.) of the importance of enrolling pharmacies in the new Medicare program in an effort to oppose reimbursement of drugs at actual acquisition cost. NACDS and NARD joined forces in fighting the idea of reimbursing high-volume pharmacies at a lower rate. Heller, president and CEO of the Oklahoma-based May's Drug Store chain, promised special attention to issues of concern to small chain members. "As a small chain executive, I hope to serve as a vital link between large and small chains," he said. "We can't agree on every issue but at least we can find common ground." Heller also noted that as a licensed pharmacist, he will be attuned to vital upcoming issues in the association. "Many of our most important issues today involve the pharmacy area," Heller noted. "My background gives me the understanding to deal with and advise in that area." In his speech, Turley had emphasized that "retail pharmacy is and will be our life blood." The former chairman urged "we must be cautious not to dilute our energy attempting to represent other specialities such as optical shops, mail order sales or durable medical supply shops or other businesses." The NACDS board elected three new members and re-elected six members to its executive committee at the annual meeting. The newly-elected members are Philip Beekman, chairman and CEO of Hook-SupeRx; Sheldon Fantle, chairman and CEO of Fantle's; and James Harrison, president and CEO of Harco Drug. NACDS President Ronald Zeigler was elected president of the Executive Committee and VP Finance and Administration James Huber was named the committee's corporate secretary. The association board of directors added two new members: Gilbert Rosenthal, CEO of Standard Drug, and Ron Schiff, president of Payless Drug Stores Northwest.
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