NCPA Supports House Bill Recognizing Pharmacists as Health Care Providers: This week NCPA endorsed H.R. 592, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, which was introduced by U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Ron Kind (R-Wis.). The bill recognizes pharmacists as health care providers and permits state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities to both provide and be reimbursed for an expanded scope of patient-care services under the Medicare Part B program. H.R. 592 has 108 original cosponsors and is a companion bill to S. 109 which was introduced by a group of 27 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate earlier this month. NCPA is a part of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC)—a group of more than 20 organizations representing patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies, as well as other interested stakeholders—dedicated to ensuring the full capabilities of pharmacists are recognized and compensated.
Sen. Brown Submits DIR Fees Question as part of Senate Finance Committee Confirmation Hearing for HHS Nominee: Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) testified this week before the Senate Finance Committee. Price’s hearing was highly partisan with most Democratic Senators asking questions about his financial dealings, positions on Medicaid block grants, and privatizing Medicare. Republican Senators overall came to his defense and did not pose many policy questions in an effort to not prolong the hearing more than necessary. At NCPA’s request, independent pharmacy champion Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) submitted a question on DIR fees for the record. The question spoke to the proposed CMS guidance that was released in late 2014 and also notes CMS recognition of problems with how the fees are reported by plan sponsors, how they impact pharmacy business, and the resulting challenges they create for Part D beneficiaries.
NCPA Supports Bill to Make OTC Drugs More Accessible: NCPA joined the Health Choices Coalition in support H.R. 394, the Restoring Access to Medication Act that was introduced by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Ron Kind (D-WI). The bill seeks to restore OTC medications to full tax-preferred status and help create efficiencies and improve access to care. NCPA has been involved with this coalition since 2012.
NCPA Supports Death Tax Repeal: This week, U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD), Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Congressman Bishop (D-GA) reintroduced the Death Tax Repeal Act for the 115th Congress (Senate Bill: S. 205 House Bill: H.R. 631). NCPA is a member of the Family Business Coalition which is a collection of organizations and industry groups united for the common purpose of protecting family businesses. NCPA joined 132 organizations in sending a letter of support for the legislation.
Senate and House Republicans Retreat in Philadelphia: House and Senate Republicans met this week to plan the year ahead with an ambitious agenda that they are trying to move with President Trump. President Trump also attended the meeting where he learned that each piece of legislation that he wants to pass will be a major lift on Capitol Hill and that much of it will spark fierce Democratic resistance — meaning it will take weeks or months of negotiation to come together. Several members voiced concerns with repealing/replacing the ACA that were leaked to the press with many in Congress urging caution and understanding that this process may take several months to complete. NCPA remains active with the Hill on ACA repeal and the pro-pharmacy provisions that were included in the ACA.
Action Requested to Protect Compounding: Please contact your Representative (you can use the “Find Officials” tool on the NCPA Legislative Action Center to find their contact information) and urge them to sign onto a letter led by Representatives Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to rescind a final rule forbidding 503A pharmacies from compounding for office use. FDA has finalized guidance that would limit office use compounding to 503B pharmacies. It’s imperative that FDA hear from members of Congress that this guidance be rescinded and reissued to include 503A pharmacies. Urge your Representative to sign this letter because:
- It was the clear intent by Congress to allow 503A pharmacies to compound for office use when it passed the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA).
- Limiting office use compounding to 503B pharmacies creates barriers to patient access
The deadline for Representatives to sign onto this letter is Friday February 3rd. Please have your Representative’s office contact Luci Arveseth in Congressman Stewart’s office at Luci.Arveseth@mail.house.gov to sign onto the office use letter.
NCPA, NACDS Request Meeting with CMS to Discuss Enrolling Pharmacies in Medicare: Recent rules for the Part D program require prescribers to be enrolled in Medicare in an approved status. Since there is no process for enrolling pharmacies in Medicare, CMS opted to exempt pharmacies from the requirement. But now CMS has issued a final rule on enrolling pharmacies in Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans (MA-PD) for 2019 and declined to exercise a similar exemption. The agency even acknowledged “…we currently do not have a process in place to enroll pharmacies for the purpose of dispensing drugs, except in very limited circumstances, such as for Part B drugs.” NCPA and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores have expressed their concerns to CMS and requested a meeting. Stay tuned for further information.
NCPA Seeking Members Interested in 2017 Pharmacy Quality Measure Development Efforts: The Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) is gearing up for 2017 measure development and NCPA is looking for interested members to participate on Stakeholder Advisory Panels (SAPs). SAPs are larger groups that provide input to Measure Development Teams and Task Forces on measure concepts under development. To learn more about PQA’s measure development process and the various groups involved, visit the Measure Development section of the PQA website. The list of 2017 Stakeholder Advisory Panels can be found on the PQA web site at http://pqaalliance.org/mdg/saps.asp. There will be 3 panels focused on specialty & pharmacy, medication therapy management, and safe & appropriate medication use and the panels meet quarterly and in-person at the PQA Annual Meeting. Please contact Ronna Hauser at email@example.com. if you are interested.
Transparency and Pharmacy Access: Top Priorities for Independent Pharmacists: Click here for a recent article from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA in Pharmacy Times:
In the States:
- New Hampshire: NCPA submitted a letter of support for H.B. 455 which would prohibit PBMs from requiring additional accreditation, credentialing, or licensing other than the requirements of the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy.
- Hawaii: H.B. 1158 was introduced and would require PBMs to register with the insurance commissioner.
- Alaska: S.B. 38 was introduced and includes provisions which address PBM registration, pricing transparency, and fair pharmacy audit rights.
- Maryland: H.B. 154 was introduced and alters the date on which the registration of a PBM expires unless it is renewed.