Ever since "preferred pharmacy" drug plans emerged in the Medicare Part D program, NCPA has actively opposed them and advocated for patient choice.
On May 7, 2014, NCPA announced the introduction of and endorsed The Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act
(H.R. 4577). It is sponsored by U.S. Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).
When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued in January 2014 a proposed regulation that would allow "any willing pharmacy" to meet "preferred" pharmacy contract terms and conditions, NCPA took a proactive approach in promoting the proposal. NCPA was deeply disappointed in CMS' decision to table for now the "any willing pharmacy" change.
Below is a sampling of NCPA activity. NCPA continues to advocate on this issue:
- 1) NCPA direct communication efforts to keep members engaged—A nationwide alert to NCPA members has been sent repeatedly urging community pharmacists to contact their members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 4577, the any willing pharmacy bill. Previously, on dozens of occasions throughout 2014 NCPA has utilized Executive Update, eNews Weekly, Advocacy Alert, faxes and other communications vehicles to keep community pharmacy stakeholders updated on any willing pharmacy and aware of how they can take action. These have included sample letters to Medicare, to Congress, grassroots alerts and other tactics, such as a You Tube video.
2) Preferred pharmacy toolkit for community pharmacies – Developed in December 2013 and promoted to membership via eNews, the toolkit included a bag stuffer to educate patients as well as a patient petition pharmacies could use in their store to gather signatures in favor of opening preferred networks. NCPA staff updated it and it remains available at the NCPA Advocacy Center (look on the right-hand side of the page).
3) Social media - NCPA engaged pharmacists and patients in social media using the hashtag #pharmacychoice. A week in January 2014 was dedicated to the issue and NCPA continues promoting the theme via Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. For more, see NCPA's blog - The Dose.
4) Engaging NCPA partners—NCPA has engaged independent pharmacy organizations (state associations, wholesalers and buying groups) and continues to partner with them in this cause. An NCPA-generated letter to CMS was signed by 157 organizations backing any willing pharmacy.
5) Engaging Congress - NCPA staff held countless meetings with Members of Congress, congressional staff and sent emails to their offices. NCPA supported efforts by U.S. Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) to introduce H.R. 4577 and continues to engage other lawmakers. Prior to the introduction of H.R. 4577, an earlier pharmacy choice proposal garnered the support of: Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.); Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.); Lou Barletta (R-Pa.); Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.); Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.); Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); Kathy Castor (D-Fla.); Doug Collins (R-Ga.); Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.); Sam Farr (D-Calif.); House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.); Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.); House Small Business Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.); Morgan Griffith (R-Va.); Gene Green (D-Texas); Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas); Walter Jones (R-N.C.); Peter King (R-N.Y.); Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.); Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa); Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.); Thomas Massie (R-Ky.); Bill Owens (D-N.Y.); Collin Peterson (D-Minn.); Phil Roe (R-Tenn.); Mike Rogers (R-Ala.); Tim Ryan (D-Ohio); John Sarbanes (D-Md.); Terri Sewell (D-Ala.); House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.); Peter Welch (D-Vt.); and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.)
6) Advertisements placed in Capitol Hill publications and pitched to media. See: http://ncpanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/ncpa-ads-support-medicare-proposed-rules-key-provisions/ and http://ncpanet.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/ncpa-launches-ads-web-page-advocating-for-pharmacy-choice-in-medicare-drug-plans/
- 7) Web site developed as central focal point of NCPA arguments for any willing pharmacy. First it was www.ncpanet.org/medicare and now it is www.ncpanet.org/pharmacychoice.
8) Engaging Patients and Outside Allies
- Aggressive outreach to non-pharmacy organizations for their support.
- Developed patient sample letters to CMS and Congress and made them available through the Fight4RX website.
- 9) Engaging the media—News releases and pitches sent to media. Op-eds published in The Hill.com, Modern Healthcare, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and others pitched elsewhere. NCPA interviews conducted with The New York Times, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, Inside Health Policy and many others. NCPA members provided with sample letter to the editor that they can personalize and send to local media outlets.
Engaging Patients and Outside Allies
- Engaging the media—News releases and pitches sent to media. Op-eds published in The Hill.com, Modern Healthcare, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and others pitched elsewhere. NCPA interviews conducted with The New York Times, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, Inside Health Policy and many others. NCPA members provided with sample letter to the editor that they can personalize and send to local media outlets.