ALEXANDRIA, Va. — More than 300 independent pharmacists from across the country gathered near the nation’s capital for the National Community Pharmacists Association’s 2016 Congressional Pharmacy Summit.
Wrapping up on Wednesday, the two-day event included remarks from a leading member of Congress, panel discussions, an award presentation, updates on the legislative and regulatory agenda, a media call and attendee visits to Capitol Hill to advocate pro-community pharmacy policies.
NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Summit attendees heard opening remarks from NCPA chief executive officer B. Douglas Hoey and NCPA president Bradley Arthur, and Steve Pfister, senior vice president of government affairs for NCPA, gave a legislative and regulatory affairs briefing.
In addition, Hoey and Rep. Buddy Carter (R., Ga.), who is also a community pharmacist, held a media conference call to provide insight on key legislation, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) was given a Friend of Pharmacy award for her legislative support of the pharmacy profession over the years.
Pharmacy advocates participated in more than 600 visits to over 250 U.S. House and Senate offices at the summit. NCPA members who couldn’t attend took part in a “Virtual Pharmacy Advocacy” drive on Tuesday and Wednesday in which they phoned and emailed senators and representatives about the importance of supporting pro-pharmacy and pro-patient solutions.
“Early reports from our members about their visits to the Hill are encouraging,” Hoey said in a statement. “The compelling message of greater accountability and transparency for PBM corporations and allowing independent community pharmacies to participate on equal footing in Medicare Part D seems to be resonating. By leveling the playing field for these trusted local health care providers, it is the patient that will benefit the most.”
Issues addressed during the visits on the Hill included greater transparency for generic drug reimbursements in government-run programs by enacting the MAC Transparency Act (H.R. 244); requiring Medicare Part D and PBMs to report pharmacy price concessions when prescription drugs are dispensed, known as direct and indirect remuneration (DIR fees); and including an “any willing pharmacy provision” in federal programs by enacting the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 793, S. 1190).
Advocates also urged support for the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592, S. 314), which NCPA said would boost Medicare beneficiary access to pharmacy-delivered health care services by recognizing pharmacists as health care providers.
Regarding the DIR fees issue, community pharmacists asked lawmakers to sign onto letters to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that urge CMS to finalize its proposed guidance on “negotiated prices” reporting to make DIR fees more transparent. The letters are organized by Reps. Austin Scott (R., Ga.), Dave Loebsack (D., Iowa), Peter Welch (D., Vt.) and Carter, along with Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio).
“The vital role independent community pharmacists play in improving patient outcomes and reducing overall spending is being undermined by pressing concerns in the marketplace that negatively affect pharmacists,” Hoey stated. “In response, these clinically trained medication experts have flocked to our nation’s capital for the NCPA 2016 Congressional Pharmacy Summit this week to engage in vigorous, informative advocacy with members of Congress and their staff.”