Pharmacists Press Capitol Hill for Pro-Patient Legislation
Independent community pharmacists presented a compelling case for transparency and routine updates for generic prescription drug reimbursements.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (May 13, 2015) — With the 114th U.S. Congress still in its opening months, hundreds of independent community pharmacists from across the country advocated for common-sense legislative solutions to help ensure patients have access to prescription drugs and pharmacy services at the 2015 National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Annual Legislative Conference held May 12 – 13.
“Independent community pharmacies deliver critical prescription services, often to underserved communities, that improve patient outcomes and reduce overall spending,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. “But substantial problems undermine the viability of these small business health care providers, threatening patient access to their most trusted and often most convenient pharmacies. That’s why independent community pharmacists from across America came to Washington this week to generate more support for three common-sense legislative solutions.”
Hoey added, “Why should pharmacies be forced to buy high and sell low, when the technology clearly exists to provide timely updates to generic prescription drug reimbursement benchmarks? Why should pharmacies willing to accept ‘preferred pharmacy’ plan contract terms still be precluded from participating in medically underserved areas? And why should clinically-trained medication experts continue to be an untapped resource when they could help an already overwhelmed health care system? Those rhetorical questions each have one obvious answer: the status quo has become untenable, so now is the time to pass ready-made solutions.”
Independent community pharmacists presented a compelling case for transparency and routine updates for generic prescription drug reimbursements for encouraging lawmakers to pass H.R. 244 (the MAC Transparency Act); urging an “any willing pharmacy” policy for Medicare Part D’s “preferred” pharmacy plans through companion bills H.R. 793 and S. 1190 (the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act); and supporting better utilization of pharmacists by recognizing them as health care providers through companion bills H.R. 592 and S. 314 (the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act).
The conference began with a keynote speech from community pharmacist and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-Ga.). It was followed by various panel discussions and policy briefings that enhanced attendees’ understanding of the current governmental landscape and revealed the best strategies going forward. In addition, there was a media conference call featuring U.S. Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who talked about the bill he introduced in the first few days of the new Congress — H.R. 244
Attendees also heard that more progress was also made with the regards to the recently introduced S. 1190, as over 60 diverse organizations signed a letter endorsing the bill in a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has significant health care jurisdiction.
The events culminated in a rally today where attendees heard from Sens. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), along with Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.) before swarming Capitol Hill to meet directly with U.S. Senators, Representatives and their staffs.
Hoey concluded, “The groundwork has been laid in the U.S. Congress thanks to our members taking time out of their busy schedules to make sure their voices are heard. Our legislators should have a better understanding of why action must be taken on the three top issues — transparency, exclusion from preferred networks and provider status – affecting independent community pharmacies and the patients they serve.”