Association Advances Legislative Agenda

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Ms. Khani and Mr. Sewell are copresidents of the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action.

The August congressional recesscame in the middle of ahectic session. With both theHouse and Senate dealing with contentiousissues, the Coalition forCommunity Pharmacy Action?s (CCPA)3 priority issues?Average ManufacturersPrice, prompt payment ofMedicare Part D claims, and TRICARE?remain unresolved. Our efforts, however,have continued throughout therecess as we reach out to lawmakersand try to continue the progress wehave made on all 3 issues.

CCPA is still seeking a legislative fix tothe Deficit Reduction Act, which dramaticallycuts pharmacy reimbursementfor generic drugs in the Medicaidprogram. Reps Nancy Boyda (D, Kan)and JoAnn Emerson (R, Mo), togetherwith a bipartisan group of 30 fellow legislators,have introduced the Saving OurCommunity Pharmacies Act of 2007, HR3140, in the House of Representatives.Companion legislation, S 1951, has beenintroduced in the Senate by an impressivebipartisan lineup including FinanceChairman Max Baucus (D, Mont),Blanche Lincoln (D, Ark), Ken Salazar (D,Colo), Joseph Lieberman (I, Conn), PatRoberts (R, Kan), Thad Cochran (R, Miss),Gordon Smith (R, Ore), and Trent Lott (R,Miss). The CCPA applauds these lawmakersfor their support of communitypharmacy and our patients.

HR 1474, which requires prompt paymentof claims in Medicare Part D, hasgained an impressive 194 cosponsorsin the House of Representatives. TheSenate Finance Committee is consideringa similar measure, S 1954, introducedlast month by Finance CommitteeChairman Max Baucus (D, Mont)and Finance Committee RankingMember Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa),along with Sens Blanche Lincoln (D,Ark), Pat Roberts (R, Kan), Kent Conrad(D, ND), Michael Enzi (R, Wyo), CharlesSchumer (D, NY), Thad Cochran (R,Miss), Ken Salazar (D, Colo), GordonSmith (R, Ore), Jeff Bingaman (D, NM),and Olympia Snowe (R, Me). In a strongshow of support, 10 of the 21 senatorson the Senate Finance Committeehave cosponsored the bill.

We have advanced our legislativegoals in regard to the Department ofDefense (DOD) TRICARE program. InMay, the House passed a probeneficiary,probudget defense bill that includedthe necessary clarification that the DODmay receive federal pricing discountsfor TRICARE retail prescriptions. TheHouse bill also includes a freeze onincreases to retail pharmacy copayments.The Senate bill was passed bythe Armed Services Committee andincludes the federal pricing clarification,but no language regarding retailpharmacy copayments. The full Senateis expected to resume its considerationof the bill when the members return toWashington.

As CCPA pushes forward on all 3fronts, the support of community pharmacistsand our patients is critical tobuild support and momentum behindour bills in Congress. The congressionalrecess was a perfect time to urgelawmakers to take action before theend of the year. The CCPA organizedand attended no fewer than 25 in-pharmacyvisits in August alone, but wecannot do it alone.

You should voice your concerns bycalling and writing your members ofCongress or by setting up a meetingwith them or their staff. Together wewill make sure that Congress hears ourmessage to protect patients? access totheir trusted pharmacy provider.

For additional information on thesecritical issues, visit www.rxaction.org/Introduction.cfm.