The NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Summit had a “pro-pharmacist and pro-patient” focus as 300 attendees visited U.S. House and Senate offices during the summit this week.
The message to legislators followed a theme of transparency, particularly when it came to drug pricing. And NCPA leadership said there was a push to include independents in the “any willing pharmacy” provision under Medicare Part D plans. Pharmacy advocates were seeking increased access for Medicare patients by recognizing pharmacists as healthcare providers under Medicare Part B, and to address the Clawbacks from PBMs that are hitting pharmacies in the form of DIR fees.
It was a full agenda, with a message of creating a level playing field for independents says NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey, RP.h. “The compelling message of great accountability and transparency for PBM corporations and allowing independent community pharmacies to participate on equal footing in Medicare Part D seems to be resonating” with law makers, Hoey said in a release.
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), a long-time independent community pharmacist himself, addressed the status of legislation that pro-pharmacy law makers are behind. In a call with the media as part of the summit, Carter said the prominent issues facing pharmacy, changes that could transform the industry, are germane in the current political climate. With H.R. 244, “MAC Transparency Act”, Carter says the call for greater transparency with generic drug reimbursements with government programs dovetails with Speaker Paul Ryan’s call for transparency in healthcare reform.
Access to pharmacists, sometimes the best bet for clinical care in rural areas, is why Carter says there is legislative traction behind “any willing pharmacy” H.R. 793 and H.R. 592 “The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act.” Carter cited pharmacists as one of the most widely available healthcare providers out there, and noted that this broad access to pharmacy was why these bills need to garner support. “Many people, particularly in rural areas, rely on [their pharmacy],” he said. With co-sponsors to this bill, Carter says to keep pushing the issue. Access is why he supports pharmacy choice in the Tri-Care Program.
Approving a bill that gives pharmacists provider status, says Carter, would mean reimbursement for “what pharmacists have been doing for many years for counseling. The pharmacists graduating today are clinically superior in their abilities and we need to take advantage of the expertise that exists there in the pharmacy community.”
Finally, on the issue of PBM Clawback (or direct and indirect remuneration, also known as DIR fees), Carter said these “fees” have been an ongoing thorn in the side of community pharmacy and 11 legislators have supported CMS’ proposed guidence to “ensure Part D plan sonsors consistently report pharmacy price concessions.” Ideally, point-of-transaction technology will give pharmacy owners a clear view of what fees will impact their reimbursement so they can price appropriately. “This is something that’s gotten a lot of attention in the pharmacy community,” he said, “and it’s something we’ve been trying to address.” NCPA has called on CMS for uniform reporting among Part D plan sponsored and  transparency in pricing when the drug is dispensed. You can read the NCPA letter here and Carter’s co-signed letter here.
Here are some links to the issues that were addressed in the call.
•  Any willing pharmacy provision in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans
For more details, including videos and photos, visit NCPA’s Facebook page.
If you attended the summit, share your thoughts on what was most meaningful or issues we should talk about in future posts.