NCPA Urges Congress to Support Patient Pharmacy Choice in Medicare Drug Plans



ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Mar. 13, 2014) — The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today wrote to every U.S. Senator and Representative to urge them to support seniors’ choice of pharmacy in Medicare drug plans, in the wake of a decision earlier this week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to postpone implementation of the patient choice provisions of a proposed rule for 2015 Medicare Part D drug plans.

In a letter to Capitol Hill, NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, expressed how “deeply disappointed” community pharmacists are in CMS’ decision not to address shortcomings in “preferred pharmacy” drug plans.

“By allowing independent community pharmacies to continue to be excluded from negotiations for preferred pharmacy arrangements in this taxpayer-funded program, some seniors are forced to travel 20 miles or more to reach a preferred pharmacy or pay a heftier copay at a non-preferred pharmacy,” Hoey wrote. “We believe this is simply not right, and NCPA and our members will continue to fight for the patients they have been serving for decades.”

Hoey urged lawmakers to “introduce and cosponsor pro-patient, pro-pharmacy legislation” in order to address “this unfortunate misuse and abuse of the current law.”

In addition, Hoey asked lawmakers to support the remaining pro-patient, pro-pharmacy provisions of Medicare’s proposed rule, and wrote that NCPA will reiterate its support for these policies to CMS. These include expanding medication therapy management (MTM) eligibility; requiring regular generic pricing updates; not penalizing seniors with higher copays for choosing their local community pharmacy over mail order; allowing CMS to combat fraud, waste, and abuse by requiring plan sponsors to hire independent auditors; banning reimbursement practices that penalize long-term care pharmacies for adopting cost-efficient dispensing practices; and protecting seniors by establishing fulfillment requirements for mail order pharmacies, in response to a litany of complaints to CMS.

Members of Congress previously voiced their support for the patient choice (or “any willing pharmacy”) proposal, including Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.); Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.); Lou Barletta (R-Pa.); Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.); Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.); Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); Kathy Castor (D-Fla.); Doug Collins (R-Ga.); Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.); Sam Farr (D-Calif.); House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.); House Small Business Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.); Morgan Griffith (R-Va.); Gene Green (D-Texas); Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas); Walter Jones (R-N.C.); Peter King (R-N.Y.); Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.); Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa); Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.); Thomas Massie (R-Ky.); Bill Owens (D-N.Y.); Collin Peterson (D-Minn.); Phil Roe (R-Tenn.); Mike Rogers (R-Ala.); Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); John Sarbanes (D-Md.); Terri Sewell (D-Ala.); House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.); Peter Welch (D-Vt.); and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)

Key consumer advocates support patient choice as well, including the Alliance for Retired Americans; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); California Health Advocates; Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.; Families USA; Medicare Rights Center; National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare; National Council on Aging; and National Senior Citizens Law Center.

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