Pharmacists Press U.S. Congress to Pass Pro-Pharmacist, Pro-Patient Legislation
More than 300 independent community pharmacists from across the United States gathered for the National Community Pharmacists Association 2016 Congressional Pharmacy Summit from May 24 - May 25 just outside Washington, D.C.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (May 25, 2016) - More than 300 independent community pharmacists from across the United States gathered for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) 2016 Congressional Pharmacy Summit from May 24 - May 25 just outside Washington, D.C. The event included remarks from a leading member of Congress; lively panel discussions; an award presentation; updates on the legislative and regulatory agenda; a media call; and most importantly, attendee visits to Capitol Hill to advocate vigorously for common-sense polices.
"The vital role independent community pharmacists play in improving patient outcomes and reducing overall spending is being undermined by pressing concerns in the marketplace that negatively affect pharmacists," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "In response, these clinically-trained medication experts have flocked to our nation's capital for the NCPA 2016 Congressional Pharmacy Summit this week to engage in vigorous, informative advocacy with members of Congress and their staff."
Summit attendees visited member offices in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate during both days—Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday—on:
- Creating greater transparency for generic prescription drug reimbursements in government-run programs by enacting H.R. 244, the MAC Transparency Act;
- Requiring Medicare Part D and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) corporations to report pharmacy price concessions when prescription drugs are dispensed, which are called "direct and indirect remuneration" (DIR fees);
- Pushing to include an any willing pharmacy provision in federal programs by enacting H.R. 793 / S. 1190, the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act, which would allow community pharmacies in medically underserved areas to serve Medicare Part D beneficiaries as long as the pharmacy accepts the drug plan's terms and conditions; and
- Increasing Medicare beneficiary access to health care services delivered by pharmacists by recognizing them as health care providers under Medicare Part B by enacting H.R. 592 / S. 314, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act.
With regards to the PBM clawback (or DIR fee) issue, community pharmacists asked their members of Congress to sign onto letters to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), urging the agency to finalize its proposed guidance on "negotiated prices" reporting to make DIR fees more transparent. The letters are organized by Reps. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
Attendees heard opening remarks from Hoey and NCPA President Bradley J. Arthur, RPh, co-owner of two pharmacies in Buffalo, N.Y. NCPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Steve Pfister, provided a legislative and regulatory affairs briefing. There was a media conference call with Hoey and Rep. Carter, who is also an independent community pharmacist, to provide keen insight about why certain legislation is needed and where those efforts currently stand. In addition, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the fourth-highest ranking member in the House, was given a "Friend of Pharmacy" award for her willingness to fight for constructive legislation over the years.
There were more than 600 visits to more than 250 U.S. House and Senate offices. Even NCPA members who could not attend in person were able to provide support. On both Tuesday and Wednesday they engaged in a "Virtual Pharmacy Advocacy" effort where they phoned and emailed their Senators and Representatives about the importance of supporting pro-pharmacy and pro-patient solutions, utilizing NCPA's recently upgraded online grassroots platform.
"Early reports from our members about their visits to the Hill are encouraging," said Hoey. "The compelling message of greater accountability and transparency for PBM corporations and allowing independent community pharmacies to participate on equal footing in Medicare Part D seems to be resonating. By leveling the playing field for these trusted local health care providers, it is the patient that will benefit the most."