NCPA said Monday that it submitted comments for a House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing on Medicare and offered suggestions to enhance the program and expand seniors’ access to prescription drugs and related health services.
The comments included legislation to boost pharmacists’ ability to provide important services to their patients, especially in underserved areas and that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) address and clarify key issues for community pharmacy.
“Independent community pharmacies play a critical role in ensuring Medicare beneficiaries have immediate access to medications,” NCPA said in the letter to the subcommittee. “They are on the frontlines of health care delivery, partnering with patients and providers to help manage chronic conditions and counsel patients on proper medication use. Eighty percent of these community pharmacies are in population areas of 50,000 or less, underscoring their importance to underserved communities.”
NCPA recommended that Congress enact the following legislation:
• The Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Drug Spending Act (H.R. 1038), which would ban retroactive direct and indirect remuneration fees (DIR fees) on community pharmacies.
• The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act (H.R. 1316), which would increase transparency into how generic drugs are priced by pharmacy benefit managers and paid for in Medicare.
• The Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 1939), which would give seniors more access to discounted co-payments for prescription drugs at their pharmacy of choice.
• The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592), which would expand access for beneficiaries in underserved areas to basic health services from a community pharmacist.
The association also called on lawmakers to bolster and finalize proposed CMS guidance on DIR and pharmacy price concessions, as well as review and standardize how Part D plans measure pharmacy quality and performance in community pharmacies.
“Adequate reimbursement is essential to sustaining beneficiary access to prescription drugs at the pharmacies NCPA represents,” NCPA noted in its comments. “Ninety-two percent of sales revenue at an independent community pharmacy is derived from prescription drugs, and Medicare Part D accounts for 35% of these prescriptions.”