House/Senate DIR Bills Introduced: This week, Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), along with 16 of their colleagues, introduced H.R. 1038, the “Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Drug Spending Act,” that would prohibit retroactive pharmacy DIR fees. The bill was introduced with very strong support including the chair and vice-chair of the Republican Conference, five members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and also the chairmen of the Judiciary and powerful House Rules Committees. Additional members of Congress who are original sponsors of H.R. 1038 include (in alphabetical order) Reps. Bruce Babin (R-Texas), Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Rod Blum (R-Iowa), Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Martha Roby (R-Al.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), and Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
In the Senate, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-Wv.) and Jon Tester (D-Mt.) introduced the identical bill (S. 413) along with six of their colleagues. Additional Senators who are original sponsors of S. 413 included (in alphabetical order) John Boozman (R-Ak.), Tom Cotton (R-Ak.), Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), James Lankford (R-Ok.), and Roger Wicker (R-Ms.).
If your member of Congress and/or Senator is listed above, please go to the NCPA Legislative Action Center to send an email thanking them for their support of independent community pharmacy. If your lawmaker is not a cosponsor, ask them to sign on as one through the Legislative Action Center.
Additionally, NCPA has developed the attached infographic titled “How Pharmacy DIR Fees Work” as another tool to bolster our arguments and better explain the issue.
Senate Finance Hearing on CMS Administrator Nomination: This week the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to consider the nomination of Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The hearing discussed President Trump’s nominee to lead CMS, an agency that covers the health care services of over one-third of the nation’s population through Medicare and Medicaid and has a budget of more than one trillion dollars annually. The hearing examined Ms. Verma’s professional background and qualifications with particular emphasis on her recent role as a health care consulting contractor advising the State of Indiana in implementing the Healthy Indiana Medicaid waiver plan. Ms. Verma was praised by Republicans on the panel and although she was criticized by some Democratic Senators for not answering questions in a thorough manner – the hearing was much less vitriolic than Dr. Prices journey to confirmation. She spoke to the Medicaid system nationally being “broken” and the need for substantial reforms. It is not clear when the Senate will move to confirm her nomination.
Sen. Brown Submits Pro-Pharmacy Questions as part of Senate Finance Committee Confirmation Hearing for CMS Administrator Nominee: This week at NCPA’s request independent community pharmacy champion, Senator Sherrod (D-OH), submitted questions regarding the importance of transparency and fairness in pharmacy DIR fees and on concerns regarding the affect that potential Medicaid reforms could have on patient access to critical services. In particular, concerns that limiting access to prescription medications either as a result of overly restrictive formularies or pharmacy networks could end up actually increasing federal and state costs when these beneficiaries wind up in the hospital after having to forgo critical medications.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) Testifies to Repeal the Health Insurance Industry’s Exemption from Antitrust Laws: This week independent community pharmacy champion, Rep. Austin Scott testified before the House Judiciary Anti-Trust Subcommittee alongside his colleague, Dr. Paul Gosar (R-Az.), who introduced H.R. 372, Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017. The bill would amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act (“MFA”) to provide that certain anticompetitive conduct by health insurers and medical malpractice insurers is not immune under the antitrust laws. Mr. Scott spoke about his concerns that the health insurance industry is exempt from antitrust laws when they control so many of the consumer’s decisions. Additionally, he pointed out that lack of competition drives up the cost to the consumer which ultimately drives up the price for the government with Medicare/Medicaid patients. Mr. Scott concluded by highlighting that this exemption is not only damaging to the consumer when they purchase health insurance, it also damages the health care providers and therefore further limits access to care. House Republicans are pushing forward this legislation that could subject health insurers to increased antitrust scrutiny as part of a larger debate about changing the nation’s health care system. Dr. Gosar introduced the same bill in the 114th Congress and there was no significant action taken on the measure. To watch Rep. Scott’s testimony: https://youtu.be/Gq_9HjhbfZU
Deadline Extended: Act Now to Protect Pharmacy Compounding: Please urge your Representative to join an effort led by Reps. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) to get the Food and Drug Administration to rescind its final rule forbidding 503A pharmacies from compounding for office use. (Use the “Find Officials” tool in the NCPA Legislative Action Center for contact information about your member of the House of Representatives.) The deadline for Representatives to add their names to the letter has been extended to March 31. Please have your Representative’s office contact Luci Arveseth in Stewart’s office at Luci.Arveseth@mail.house.gov to support community pharmacies.
Shape the New Health Care Laws This Year at the Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In: This is a critical time for your pharmacy! Ensure community pharmacy is heard as lawmakers replace the Affordable Care Act. Join the NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In April 26-27 in Washington, D.C. It’s much shorter and more affordable this year so you can come to Capitol Hill and advocate for your patients and your business. Help us urge lawmakers to ban retroactive pharmacy DIR fees, support ‘any willing pharmacy’ legislation, fight mandatory PBM mail order, and enact pharmacist provider status legislation. Register now online or by calling 1-800-544-7447 and make your voice heard in the halls of Congress.
Hear NCPA’s 2017 Legislative Strategy & Get Your Questions Answered at Feb. 22 Members Forum:
The results are in: NCPA members’ No. 1 priority is DIR fees for the second consecutive year. Join our Feb. 22 Members Forum with NCPA CEO Doug Hoey and NCPA Advocacy Center staff for a preview of NCPA’s strategy on this issue and others topics you told us were important to you. Members can submit questions in advance on the registration form or during the webinar.
NCPA Members Forum: 2017 Member Priorities
Date: Feb. 22, 2 p.m. ET
Speakers: NCPA CEO Doug Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, & NCPA Advocacy Center staff
Advance registration is required—click here to register and receive your login instructions. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the States:
- Maryland: H.B. 1121, an Any Willing Pharmacy bill was introduced and it would prohibit specified carriers from prohibiting an enrollee from selecting a specified pharmacy for services. The bill also prohibits specified carriers from imposing on an enrollee specified payments, fees, reimbursement amounts, limitations, or conditions for services.