The August congressional recess came in the middle of a hectic session. With both the House and Senate dealing with contentious issues, the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action?s (CCPA) 3 priority issues?Average Manufacturers Price, prompt payment of Medicare Part D claims, and TRICARE? remain unresolved. Our efforts, however, have continued throughout the recess as we reach out to lawmakers and try to continue the progress we have made on all 3 issues.
CCPA is still seeking a legislative fix to the Deficit Reduction Act, which dramatically cuts pharmacy reimbursement for generic drugs in the Medicaid program. Reps Nancy Boyda (D, Kan) and JoAnn Emerson (R, Mo), together with a bipartisan group of 30 fellow legislators, have introduced the Saving Our Community Pharmacies Act of 2007, HR 3140, in the House of Representatives. Companion legislation, S 1951, has been introduced in the Senate by an impressive bipartisan lineup including Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D, Mont), Blanche Lincoln (D, Ark), Ken Salazar (D, Colo), Joseph Lieberman (I, Conn), Pat Roberts (R, Kan), Thad Cochran (R, Miss), Gordon Smith (R, Ore), and Trent Lott (R, Miss). The CCPA applauds these lawmakers for their support of community pharmacy and our patients.
HR 1474, which requires prompt payment of claims in Medicare Part D, has gained an impressive 194 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. The Senate Finance Committee is considering a similar measure, S 1954, introduced last month by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D, Mont) and Finance Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa), along with Sens Blanche Lincoln (D, Ark), Pat Roberts (R, Kan), Kent Conrad (D, ND), Michael Enzi (R, Wyo), Charles Schumer (D, NY), Thad Cochran (R, Miss), Ken Salazar (D, Colo), Gordon Smith (R, Ore), Jeff Bingaman (D, NM), and Olympia Snowe (R, Me). In a strong show of support, 10 of the 21 senators on the Senate Finance Committee have cosponsored the bill.
We have advanced our legislative goals in regard to the Department of Defense (DOD) TRICARE program. In May, the House passed a probeneficiary, probudget defense bill that included the necessary clarification that the DOD may receive federal pricing discounts for TRICARE retail prescriptions. The House bill also includes a freeze on increases to retail pharmacy copayments. The Senate bill was passed by the Armed Services Committee and includes the federal pricing clarification, but no language regarding retail pharmacy copayments. The full Senate is expected to resume its consideration of the bill when the members return to Washington.
As CCPA pushes forward on all 3 fronts, the support of community pharmacists and our patients is critical to build support and momentum behind our bills in Congress. The congressional recess was a perfect time to urge lawmakers to take action before the end of the year. The CCPA organized and attended no fewer than 25 in-pharmacy visits in August alone, but we cannot do it alone.
You should voice your concerns by calling and writing your members of Congress or by setting up a meeting with them or their staff. Together we will make sure that Congress hears our message to protect patients? access to their trusted pharmacy provider.
For additional information on these critical issues, visit www.rxaction.org/Introduction.cfm.