ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Starting tomorrow, hundreds of community pharmacists will be gathering in Washington, D.C., for the National Community Pharmacists Association 2017 NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In.
NCPA said that on April 26 and 27 pharmacists will meet with members of Congress to advocate for a legislative agenda aimed at improving patient access to prescription drugs and other pharmacy services.
Supporting the 2017 Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In efforts will be a weeklong advertising campaign in leading Washington news outlets, the association said.
“Community pharmacists see firsthand every day the importance of assuring patient access to their prescription drug therapy,” NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey said in a statement. “There’s an important national discussion about prescription drug coverage and affordability that continues today. Independent community pharmacists are part of the solution both through greater transparency and achieving better health outcomes through proper medication use.”
Legislation that independent pharmacies will push for at the fly-in include the following:
• Improving transparency and accuracy in Medicare Part D spending (S. 413 / H.R. 1038). Targeted at pharmacy DIR fees, these bills would prohibit retroactively reducing payment on claims submitted by pharmacies under Medicare Part D.
• Creating prescription drug price transparency (H.R. 1316). Legislation would codify Medicare transparency provisions concerning maximum allowable costs (MACs) for generic drugs and apply them to TRICARE and the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. NCPA said the bill also would set up a MAC appeals process and bar pharmacy benefit manager requirements to use a PBM-owned pharmacy.
• Ensuring seniors access to local pharmacies (H.R. 1939). Bill aims to give seniors more access to discounted co-payments for prescriptions at their pharmacy of choice. What’s more, it would enable pharmacies in medically underserved areas to partake in Medicare preferred pharmacy networks if they accept a drug plan’s terms and conditions, NCPA noted.
• Attaining health provider status for pharmacists (S. 109 / H.R. 592). Companion legislation would designate pharmacists as health providers under Medicare Part B. Pharmacists would be able to perform services for patients in line with their state’s scope of practice if their pharmacy is in a medically underserved or health professional shortage area.
And with the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers angling to oust the Affordable Care Act, NCPA said advocates will push for the retention of provisions that enhance patient access to medications. Those include preserving prescription drug coverage as an essential health benefit; maintaining meaningful access to retail pharmacies for patients to fill their prescriptions; preserving Part D improvements to medication therapy management services; and keeping the current average manufacturer price (AMP) definition used for Medicaid fee-for-service reimbursements.
“Community pharmacists will also educate members of Congress this week about their experiences with pharmacy benefit managers’ pricing games,” Hoey added, “and offer legislative solutions to make drug middlemen more transparent and accountable, which in turn will improve health outcomes for patients overall and bend the cost curve.”