Community pharmacists rally on Capitol Hill

May 24, 2011

The National Community Pharmacists Association Conference taking place May 23 to May 25 in Washington, D.C., at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill is focusing on how the expert medication counseling and new, nontraditional services provided by local pharmacists can help reduce costs and improve patient outcomes.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Conference is taking place May 23 to May 25 in Washington, D.C., at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. The legislative conference will focus on how the expert medication counseling and new, nontraditional services provided by local pharmacists can help reduce costs and improve patient outcomes.

Approximately 350 community pharmacist small-business owners from across the country are meeting with members of Congress and officials with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and FDA. A rally will be held on May 25 on Capitol Hill with a bipartisan group of members of Congress.

In a media conference call today, John Coster, RPh, PhD, NCPA senior vice president of government affairs, reviewed recently introduced legislation that NCPA has endorsed because “it will make the market more competitive and help provide patients services,” he said.

The Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2011, introduced May 24 by U.S. Representatives Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), will provide more competition in the pharmacy marketplace in terms of administration by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), give patients more choice in where they can obtain pharmacy services, and will bring down prescription drug spending due to the requirement for greater transparency to healthcare plans by PBMs. “We see this bill as providing pro-competitive and pro-consumer provisions, and we will be asking our members to ask their Congressmen to support this legislation,” Coster said.

The Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act (H.R. 1936), introduced May 23 by U.S. Representatives Aaron Shock (R-IL) and Peter Welch (D-VT), will allow seniors to continue receiving diabetes testing supplies and expert counseling on their proper use from independent community pharmacies. The bill will permanently exempt diabetes testing supplies furnished by small community pharmacies from the CMS competitive bidding program and pricing for Medicare Part B DMEPOS. It also allows community pharmacies to continue providing home delivery of these products without them being subject to the future national mail-order competitive bidding program.

The Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2011 (H.R. 891), introduced by U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) and Mike Ross (D-AK), would require a licensed pharmacist for the initial MTM review as well as for the targeted quarterly MTM reviews. “This will improve the MTM program for Medicare Part D beneficiaries by expanding the number of individuals eligible for the program and ensure that pharmacists are adequately compensated for providing these services,” Coster said.

“Our theme this year is more competition, more choice, and more access to patients to the cost-saving services of their community pharmacists, which has been demonstrated goes a lot further in terms of improving the use of medications,” Coster continued. “We have a lot of pharmacists who are energized who will be carrying the message up to the Hill tomorrow.”