NCPA Supports House Bill Improving Pharmacy Choice for Seniors in Part D Plans
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (April 6, 2017) The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today endorsed legislation to improve pharmacy access for seniors and strengthen the Medicare Part D program through increased pharmacy competition. H.R. 1939, the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act of 2017, introduced by Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), would allow pharmacies located in medically underserved communities to participate in Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy networks if they accept the contract terms and conditions under which other in-network providers operate.
"Consumer choice is hallmark of a free market economy, but many preferred pharmacy Medicare Part D plans effectively limit where seniors can get their prescriptions filled by making seniors pay higher copays if they don't get their prescriptions from specific large chain or mail order pharmacies," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "By creating a level field for all pharmacies to compete, H.R. 1939 ensures that seniors can use the pharmacy of their choice, not one assigned to them by a pharmacy benefit manager."
H.R. 1939 would:
- Give seniors in medically underserved areas, medically underserved populations, or health professional shortage areas greater access to discounted copays for prescription drugs at their pharmacy of choice;
- Increase competition among pharmacies and Part D drug plans by expanding the number of pharmacies that may be able to offer discounted copays for Medicare Part D prescription drugs, thus enabling seniors to choose the pharmacy that best fits their needs; and
- Encourage "price competition and lower costs in the Part D program," according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
The proposal would particularly benefit patients in underserved urban and rural communities who rely on independent pharmacies. According to a Medicare study, more than half of PBMs' preferred pharmacy drug plans (54 percent) failed to meet the government's threshold for reasonable access to pharmacies in urban areas. In many rural areas, the closest PBM-preferred pharmacy can be more than 20 miles away.
Hoey added, "Why should seniors have to drive long distances to a preferred pharmacy or use a mail order pharmacy when a nearby community pharmacy is able and willing to serve the patient?"