Medicare Part D networks top NCPA legislative agenda

May 7, 2014

B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) said the organization supports new legislation introduced May 6 that would give patients greater access to Medicare Part D plan networks.

B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) said the organization supports new legislation introduced May 6 that would give patients greater access to Medicare Part D plan networks.

Hoey spoke about the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act of 2014 (H.R. 4577) and other legislative priorities of NCPA members on a media conference call from NCPA’s 2014 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Nearly 400 pharmacists and other NCPA members were on Capitol Hill May 7-8 to encourage legislators to support community pharmacies.

The Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), would allow “any willing pharmacy” located in a medically-underserved area to participate in all Medicare Part D drug plan networks, including the plan’s discounted or “preferred” network.

“We are proud to be able to endorse the bill dropped last night. It’s a critical first step toward more patient choice and allowing competition…in the Part D program,” Hoey said on the call. “We think the patients in underserved areas stand to benefit the most…including improving adherence to medications.”

In fact, ensuring that community pharmacists have fair treatment in Medicare Part D Preferred Pharmacy Networks (PPNs) is NCPA’s top legislative priority for 2014.

 

“Our members in rural and underserved areas are under a lot of pressure by not being allowed to be included in these networks,” Hoey said. “Our analysis has shown the preferred networks in many cases cost more money than the non-preferred networks. This bill [H.R. 4577] is a way to expose the higher cost to taxpayers and the government.”

Another legislative priority of NCPA is addressing pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBMs) price discrepancies. “We are supporting legislation [The Generic Drug Pricing Fairness Act] that would require PBMs to update their generic costs on a real-world basis. Payment rates are staying the same, even though prices are going up. Our members are being put in a situation where they have to sell a product well below the cost of the product,” Hoey said.

NCPA is also letting legislators and the healthcare community know that pharmacists have the ability to provide additional services to take the burden off the U.S. healthcare system. “We have seen increased utilization of health services in the first part of this year and a shortage of primary care practitioners. Pharmacists can help assist with this shortage with health and wellness screenings, immunizations, chronic disease management, proper medication management [and other efforts],” Hoey said.

NCPA is also supporting H.R. 4069, The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2013, which would help increase communication between pharmacy suppliers and the Drug Enforcement Administration about controlled prescription drugs. “We remain concerned about the difficulty pharmacies have in obtaining medications. Patients are becoming collateral damage in the war against prescription drug abuse,” Hoey said.  

 

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