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NCPA to assemble pro-pharmacy lawmakers
April 19th, 2012
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association has unveiled its lineup of congressional speakers for next month's 2012 Legislative Conference, which will bring together community pharmacists and senior Washington decision-makers to discuss key pharmacy and health care issues.
The program for NCPA's 2012 Legislative Conference, to be held May 7 to 9 in Washington, D.C., will include members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the association said Wednesday.
Slated to participate from the Senate are Sen. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), co-founder of the first-ever Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), a sponsor of bills that aim to increase penalties for pharmacy robberies, expand medication therapy management (MTM) coverage, and address prescription drug shortages. He is also a strong supporter of increased generic utilization.
Due to speak from the House are Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Medicare, Social Security, health care costs, and taxes; Rep. Frank Pallone (D., N.J.), senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, which oversees Medicaid and the Food and Drug Administration; Rep. Aaron Schock (R., Ill.), lead sponsor of H.R. 1936, which would allow seniors with Medicare to continue relying on their community pharmacy for diabetes testing supplies and face-to-face consultation on their proper use; and Rep. Mike Ross (D., Ark.), co-chair of the House Community Pharmacy Caucus, and a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health.
"We commend these members of Congress for supporting patients' access to independent community pharmacies and for their plans to speak during our Legislative Conference," NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. "Our members look forward to visiting them and talking face-to-face about how Medicaid cuts, MAC pricing, abusive audits, mandatory mail order and other issues are hurting small-business pharmacies and pharmacists' ability to serve their patients."
In tandem with the conference, hundreds of community pharmacists will go to Capitol Hill for meetings to support bipartisan pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies, NCPA noted. Key legislation and policies include the following:
• The Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act (H.R. 1971, S. 1058), which would cut costs and give pharmacy patients more choice while addressing pharmacy issues such as abusive auditing practices and confusion regarding maximum allowable costs (MACs).
• The Medicare Pharmacy Transparency and Fair Auditing Act (H.R. 4215), which would require Medicare Part D plans to disclose MAC rates to pharmacies and update them no less than every seven days, as well as stop abusive pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) auditing practices.
• The Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act (H.R. 1946), which would promote choice and competition in pharmacy service delivery by enhancing the ability of independent pharmacies to negotiate with PBMs.
• The Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act (H.R. 1936), which would allow seniors to continue receiving essential diabetes testing supplies and ounseling on their use from community pharmacies.
• Opposition to policies that would penalize beneficiaries of TRICARE, the health and pharmacy benefits program for the U.S. armed forces, for accessing essential health services provided at community pharmacies. Further incentives for mail-order pharmacies would circumvent community pharmacy-provided services that have demonstrated savings by encouraging the use of more affordable medicines, detecting chronic illness early, and increasing patients' adherence to their prescriptions.
Also on Wednesday, NCPA said that Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) submitted a statement for the congressional record to support the association's Protect Your Pharmacy Week campaign, conducted with Purdue Pharma, creator of RxPATROL. The initiative, held this week, provides resources, tools, training and education to help pharmacy operators protect their stores, staff and patients against pharmacy crimes, including prescription drug robbery and thefts.
King's district in Long Island, N.Y., experienced a pharmacy robbery on New Year's Eve at Seaford Pharmacy that resulted in the death of off-duty federal agent John Capano. Long Island has been battling a rise in pharmacy crimes related to prescription painkillers, including a robbery last June at Haven Drugs in Medford in which a pharmacist, a pharmacy assistant and two customers were shot and killed.
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the fifth annual Protect Your Pharmacy Week. With pharmacy crime on the rise, it is important to acknowledge this problem and reflect on ways to improve safety measures," read the statement from King, who is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and serves on the Financial Services Committee and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
"The Protect Your Pharmacy initiative offers resources to help pharmacies protect themselves and deter criminal activity. I applaud the National Community Pharmacists Association for making these resources available and for engaging and educating local pharmacies on this important issue," King stated. "As we have seen most recently with the tragic incident in my district, it is essential to protect pharmacies and the general public from these dangerous situations. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to eradicating these crimes, I am committed to working with pharmacies, law enforcement and my colleagues to address and eradicate this growing problem."