NCPA Advocacy Center Update – Week Ending April 27, 2018

NCPA Efforts Result in Key Pharmacy Protections in Senate and House Opioid Bills

This week, both chambers of Congress took the first steps in advancing legislation to address the opioid crisis. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee unanimously advanced the bipartisan, comprehensive Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. NCPA worked with the committee to ensure that a provision encouraging states to have authorized users check PDMPs would not be a federal mandate on pharmacists.

Also this week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health reviewed 64 bills to address the opioid crisis, advancing 57 of them. Two bills supported by NCPA were advanced on to the full committee for further consideration. H.R. 4275, “the Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act”, which was introduced by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) and Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and would require HHS to develop and disseminate education materials to provide pharmacists greater understanding and ability to detect prescriptions that are fraudulent, forged, or appear to be for abuse or diversion. H.R. 3528, “the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act”, which was introduced by Reps. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and would require electronic prescribing for controlled substances under the Medicare Part D program. NCPA was successful in getting exemptions for long-term care included in the bill, as well as language that would ensure electronic prescribing would not infringe on a patient’s right to go to a pharmacy of their choice.

NCPA will continue to work with the committee in advance of the full committee mark-up of opioid legislation later in May to address other concerns that might impact pharmacists and the patients they serve. 

White House Delays Announcement on Prescription Drug Pricing

A planned speech by President Trump to outline his plan to address prescription drug prices and which was originally scheduled for April 26, was postponed and has been tentatively rescheduled for May 8. The speech is expected to include references to pricing policies referenced in the administration’s budget, which include changes to Medicare, Medicaid, the 340B drug pricing program and accelerating the development of generic medications. The remarks are also expected to coincide with a request for information from HHS on various drug pricing ideas.

Congressional Letters Sent to DoD in Support of Retail Pharmacy Access

Last week bipartisan congressional letters (Senate Tricare Retail Pharmacy Letter to USD Wilkie_19 April 2018 and House Tricare Retail Pharmacy Letter to USD Wilkie_19 April 2018) were sent to Department of Defense’s (DoD) Robert Wilkie, Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, urging DoD to establish a working group to improve TRICARE access to community pharmacies.  The letters encourage DoD to follow through on a commitment to convene stakeholders from DoD, the pharmaceutical manufacturing community, and the retail pharmacy community to explore ways for TRICARE patients to better access their needed medications from community pharmacies.  The Senate letter garnered support from 23 Senators and was led by Sens. Michael Rounds (R-S.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and the House letter was led by Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Robert Brady (D-Penn.) and garnered support from 42 House members.  NCPA remains committed to working with DoD to increase TRICARE beneficiaries choice of where they obtain their medications.

NCPA to Participate in DQSA Meeting at FDA

Next week, members of the Drug Quality & Security Act (DQSA) coalition will be meeting with senior staff at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss the implementation of the DQSA and FDA’s regulatory actions that have limited the practices of compounding pharmacies. The DQSA coalition is comprised of pharmacy, physician, and patient groups, including NCPA, who are seeking changes to FDA’s implementation and interpretation of the law that was passed in the wake of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak associated with tainted sterile drugs from the New England Compounding Center. NCPA staff, as well as Cheri Garvin, Owner and CEO of The Compounding Center in Leesburg, Virginia, will be attending to advocate for compounding pharmacists to continue to be able to serve their patients by seeking changes to FDA’s office use policy, draft Memorandum of Understanding, and other important regulatory changes.

NCPA Presents at GeriMed’s 35th Annual Conference

Ronna Hauser, NCPA Vice President of Pharmacy Affairs, presented this week at GeriMed’s 35th Annual Conference on “CMS and Legislative Update : What is Changing in the Current Environment?” The meeting was a gathering of GeriMed customers to discuss top line issues of importance to both combination and closed door LTC pharmacies as well as meet with vendors in the LTC space.  NCPA appreciates the long standing relationship with GeriMed and the opportunity to address this audience.

NCPA Attends Medicaid Managed Care Conference in Orlando

Matt Magner, NCPA Director of State Government Affairs, attended a conference on state Medicaid managed care programs. Speakers and attendees represented various stakeholders, including state Medicaid agencies, health plans, and provider groups. Interesting topics included universal PDLs, efforts to monitor network adequacy, and increase pharmacy utilization techniques to cut down on overall Medicaid costs.

In the states …

  • Illinois HB 3479, which requires MCOs to establish, maintain, and provide fair reimbursements to pharmacy providers for prescriptions dispensed and patient care services provided in Medicaid, passed the House and is moving to the Senate.
  • Maryland HB 736 and SB 576, both of which prohibit certain actions by pharmacy benefit managers, have been approved by the governor.
  • Missouri HB 1542, which prohibits certain actions by pharmacy benefit managers, passed the House and is now in the Senate.
  • New Hampshire SB 332, which relates to medication synchronization, has passed both chambers.
  • New Hampshire SB 481, which establishes a committee to study the impact of pharmacy benefit manager operations on cost, administration, and distribution of prescription drugs, has passed both chambers.
  • New Hampshire SB 591, which relates to accreditation of health care providers by pharmacy benefit managers, has passed both chambers.
  • South Carolina H 5038, which relates to prohibited acts for pharmacy benefit managers, has passed both chambers.
  • Tennessee SB 1852, which requires pharmacy benefits managers to be licensed in the state, has passed both chamber and was transmitted to the governor.