The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association are urging Congress to speed up implementation of limits on debit card interchange fees charged to retailers, including pharmacies.


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Pharmacy groups call for action on swipe fee limits

March 10th, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association are urging Congress to speed up implementation of limits on debit card interchange fees charged to retailers, including pharmacies.

NACDS and NCPA said Wednesday that they sent a joint letter to leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate asking them to expedite the execution of an amendment to the financial reform legislation from Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.) that would limit the debit card transaction charges on merchants, known as swipe fees, to a level that's "reasonable and proportionate" to the costs incurred by banks and credit card associations to process these transactions.

"The amendment also allows retail merchants options on how their debit card transactions are routed for processing, which provides market competition for this part of the process," the letter stated.

The Durbin amendment was included in the financial reform legislation enacted last year and directed the Federal Reserve to seek a level playing field between financial institutions and retailers on interchange fees, NACDS and NCPA noted.

The law requires the Fed to write rules to enforce the "reasonable and proportional to cost" requirement for debit card fees by July 2011, although the exact date for enforcing the routing rule is left to their discretion, according to the pharmacy associations.

At this point, the Fed has issued draft regulations on what's deemed reasonable and proportionate, and they have closed the comment period on the rules, they added.

"We believe it is imperative that this process of writing and issuing final regulations continue as required by the law. Debit and credit card interchange fees currently total close to $50 billion annually for retailers," NACDS and NCPA said in the letter. "The timely promulgation and enforcement of the regulations will assure the beginnings of reform for both debit and credit cards to assure that fees are 'reasonable and proportionate' for retailers and the customers they serve in a highly competitive marketplace."

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