Alexandria, Va. - April 13, 2011
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today welcomed the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to allow patients to enjoy the benefits of greater competition among pharmacies and other providers of medical care by exempting health care professionals, including pharmacists, from federal antitrust laws for the purposes of contract negotiations with health plans. In response to the Quality Health Care Coalition Act of 2011 (H.R. 1409), NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA issued the following statement:
"In pharmacy, as with any business, more robust competition results in greater benefits for consumers in terms of choice, quality and value. This bipartisan proposal would help extend to millions of Americans the fruits of a more competitive pharmacy marketplace.
"In today's health care system, every year we hear of patients being asked to pay more for their prescription benefit insurance and accept less—fewer benefits and curtailed access to community pharmacists. Special interests like the major insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, have implemented policies to grow their profits while stacking the deck against patients, pharmacists and other health care providers. For example, insurance plans and PBMs benefit from an antitrust exemption and have opposed efforts to grant the same status to doctors, pharmacists and others. This dynamic produces one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it contracts that impede true competition and enrich managed care companies.
"The competitive landscape is particularly inequitable in the pharmacy marketplace. The major PBMs administer drug plans and operate rival mail order pharmacies. This inherent conflict of interest creates an even greater incentive for benefit managers to restrict patient choice of pharmacy and impose unfair audit and reimbursement practices.
"In addition, the structure of the existing marketplace fails to make health care more affordable. Year-after-year health care costs increase faster than inflation. Major PBMs' profits have increased five-fold during the past decade and rose in concert with prescription drug prices. The PBMs have also paid out $370 million to settle claims of fraud and deceptive practices. Meanwhile, reimbursement rates for community pharmacies have been declining for years.
"Local pharmacists greatly appreciate the leadership of U.S. Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) on this issue. I urge every community pharmacist, pharmacy employee and patient to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives to urge their support of this bill. Pharmacists should seize this moment to stand up for their profession and to play a much more active role in charting pharmacy's future. At the same time, patients will reap the rewards of greater competition."
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 41% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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