NCPA Advocacy Center Update – Week Ending December 22, 2017

Show your support for CMS’ Part D proposed rule: With the Jan. 16, 2018 deadline for comments approaching, NCPA continues to urge its members and allies to take grassroots action to back the measure. The proposal includes several NCPA-supported provisions, including a potential requirement to shift retroactive pharmacy DIR fees to point-of-sale instead. Here’s how you can help.

  • Submit comments to CMS to encourage the agency to move forward with the proposal. You can use the NCPA developed sample comments (be sure to customize them with your personal experiences) to help us counter the opposition PBMs are sure to raise.
  • Ask your Representative to sign a letter to CMS being circulated by Reps. Morgan Griffith, Peter Welch, Austin Scott, Dave Loebsack, and Buddy Carter. Click here to contact your Representative.
  • If you are a pharmacy owner/manager, please take a few moments to complete a brief survey and let us know how DIR fees are impacting you and your patients. Your input will help guide NCPA’s formal comments.

This week NCPA staff met with CMS officials on behalf of our members to convey appreciation for the important community pharmacy-related aspects of the proposed rule. In addition, NCPA is engaging pharmacy stakeholders to join a sign-on letter to CMS and we’re also educating other patient and provider groups about the proposal’s provisions and the need to support them.

This week, Republicans fulfilled their promise to provide Americans with tax reform by enacting a $1.5 trillion package that reforms the corporate rates and provides almost all individuals with a tax cut. Of interest to many community pharmacy owners, this first real reform of the tax code since 1986, provides a 20% deduction for pass throughs and eliminates the threat of the estate tax for most Americans by doubling the exemption to $10.98 million, provisions which NCPA supported. The legislation also repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate. After their victory, Congressional Republicans, with almost no help from Democrats, managed to stick together to pass a short-term funding measure to keep the government open through January 19, ensuring that operations won’t shut down during Christmas. It also waived pay-as-you-go rules for the tax cuts, preventing $150 billion per year in reductions that were set to come down on programs including Medicare. President Trump signed both bills into law today. Congress will have to revisit a raft of issues starting in January, including disaster relief, bipartisan legislation to stabilize Obamacare, as well as the children’s health insurance program and other public health priorities including funding community health centers, which Congress only reauthorized through March. Republicans and Democrats will need to work together to address these issues, as well as the debt ceiling and possibly making a deal to lift the sequestration caps on defense and non-defense spending, but it remains to be seen if the parties will be able to come together after the holidays in a bipartisan manner to address these looming policy roadblocks and fiscal cliffs.

Medicare helpline holiday hours: If your Medicare patients are having problems over the holidays please note the hours below for calling about complaints that will be tracked by CMS. The 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800) and CTM holiday schedule is listed below:

  • December 25, 2017: 1-800-MEDICARE is closed. Complaints received by 1-800 on December 22, 2017 will be loaded into CTM on December 23, 2017. Complaints received by 1-800 on December 23, 2017 through December 25, 2017 will be loaded into CTM on December 26, 2017.
  • January 1, 2018: 1-800-MEDICARE is open. Complaints received by 1-800 on December 29, 2017 will be loaded into CTM on December 31, 2017. Complaints received by 1-800 on December 30, 2017 through January 1, 2018 will be loaded into CTM on January 2, 2018.

Watchdog reports missed Medicaid rebates: HHS Office of Inspector General reported that Medicaid may have missed out on as much as $1.3 billion in additional manufacturer rebates between 2012-2016 due to misclassification of certain medications. While the vast majority of the 30,000 prescription drugs in the Medicaid rebate program were properly classified, OIG concluded that 10 potentially misclassified drugs with the highest total reimbursement in 2016 could have yielded the additional rebate revenue. CMS agreed with the recommendations offered to tighten the program.

Focus on opioid epidemic to continue with Senate hearing: The Senate HELP Committee announced another hearing on the topic. On Jan. 9, 2018, the panel will hear from Sam Quinones, journalist and author of the influential book Dreamland.

Recognize Those Who Excel in Patient Care: Nominate yourself or someone you know for a Community Pharmacy Innovation in Quality Award. The awards, sponsored by the Pharmacy Quality Alliance and the Community Pharmacy Foundation, recognize innovations in community pharmacy practice that promote improvements in quality of care, medication optimization and patient outcomes. Awards will be given in two categories—individual and pharmacy. For more information or to nominate someone, click here. Deadline for submissions is Feb. 2, 2018.

Three new state pharmacy association executives spent a day at NCPA, meeting the staff and talking about trends, legislative issues and all things community pharmacy. We enjoyed our visit with Bob Coleman, CEO of Georgia Pharmacy Association; Mark Glasper, Executive Director/CEO of Kentucky Pharmacists Association; and Debbie Garza, RPh, CEO of Texas Pharmacy Association. Come back any time!

Independent pharmacies price competitive, according to secret shopper comparison: The flagship publication Consumer Reports priced a market basket of common prescriptions across a range of pharmacy providers and reported that community pharmacies are cost-competitive. An accompanying chart lists independent pharmacies as the lowest-cost brick-and-mortar pharmacy option and well below prices quoted by national chain pharmacies.