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NCPA hails community pharmacy bill
June 21st, 2011
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association has endorsed new legislation that it said will help independent pharmacies compete while preserving patient choice in pharmacy services.
NCPA on Tuesday said The Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act (H.R. 1946), announced this week by Rep. Tom Marino (R., Pa.), would enhanced the ability of community pharmacies to negotiate with pharmacy benefit managers, in turn benefitting patients by introducing greater choice and competition into pharmacy services delivery.
Specifically, H.R. 1946 would enable independent pharmacies to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of insurance contracts to produce plan designs that "better protect the patient's access to their pharmacy of choice and are fairer to pharmacy providers," according to NCPA.
"Patients rely on independent community pharmacists for expert medication counseling and other cost-saving health services. This vital legislation will help these local pharmacists and small-business owners," NCPA executive vice president and chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement.
Hoey explained that the bill would level the playing field for independent drug store operators in negotiating with PBMs, "giving them leverage similar to those of large, national pharmacy chains," and that the legislation would safeguard consumers' ability to choose a pharmacy and help support small-business owners.
"For years, small pharmacies have had to endure one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it contracts that can disadvantage community pharmacists with onerous contract terms while impeding true competition for consumers. By contrast, large pharmacy chains have a greater ability to negotiate contracts, as evidenced by Walgreens' recent decision to opt out of the network of Express Scripts Inc., a major PBM," Hoey stated.
"What makes the pharmacy marketplace particularly inequitable is the fact that major PBMs both administer drug plans and operate mail-order pharmacies. This inherent conflict of interest creates an even greater incentive for benefit managers to impose unfair audit and reimbursement practices."
Co-sponsors of H.R. 1946 include Reps. Lou Barletta (R., Pa.), Howard Coble (R., N.C.), Renee Ellmers (R., N.C.), Jeff Fortenberry (R., Neb.), Louie Gohmert (R., Texas) and Ron Paul (R., Texas), according to NCPA.
"Many patients have expressed a clear preference for utilizing independent community pharmacies, and this bill would increase patient access to these providers," Hoey added. "Rep. Marino deserves enormous credit for introducing this legislation, and we urge his colleagues to support it."