NCPA Offers Chairman Issa Oversight Recommendations to Help Patients, Community Pharmacists and Preserve Jobs


Alexandria, Va. - Jan. 12, 2011

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) has sent a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, responding to his request for input about the negative impact of current or proposed federal regulations and proposed solutions to lessen their burden. As the trade association representing independent community pharmacies, NCPA's letter focused on four regulations: competitive bidding for diabetes testing supplies, IRS 1099 reporting requirements, reduced access to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines through Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and limited access to the 340B drug discount program.

"Independent community pharmacies are on the frontline of America's health care system, and relish the opportunity to provide prescription drug services that improve patient outcomes and reduce costs," said Kathleen Jaeger, NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO. "Unfortunately, there are a series of regulations that, while well-intentioned, undermine patient access to cost-saving services and disadvantage the small businesses that provide this care.

"Federal programs like Medicare place a premium on patient access, and independent community pharmacies help by often being located in underserved rural and urban locales. So if burdensome regulations either limit or end their participation, then many patients may be left without a reasonable alternative," Jaeger added.

The specific problems and remedies include:

  • Future requirement for all diabetes testing supplies and other products to be competitively bid or subject to a similar pricing scheme will cause disruption in services, and interim regulations will prevent community pharmacies from serving homebound beneficiaries because that service has been placed under the mail order category even though community pharmacies are supposed to be exempted from mail order competitive bidding. Community pharmacies can't access competitive bidding prices due to the small volume of products they sell, so patients could lose access to diabetes medication, products and counseling from their local community pharmacies. NCPA supports a permanent community pharmacy exemption, as well as authorization to continue providing home delivery to special needs patients.

  • NCPA supports repeal of the new IRS 1099 reporting requirements on businesses that purchase goods and services from corporations for $600 or more, because of the significant additional paperwork of filing an average of 100 to 200 new Form 1099s per pharmacy. That mandate would limit the amount of time pharmacists can spend with patients.

  • NCPA supports policies that encourage the appropriate use of OTC medications, and is concerned with the regulations prohibiting consumers from using their pre-tax FSAs to pay for OTC medicines unless the patient has a prescription. Such restrictions discourage the use of low-cost means to treat health conditions.

  • NCPA supports reforms to the 340B program to ensure medications, which are required to be sold at a significant discount by the manufacturer to federally funded clinics and certain disproportionate share hospitals, are used for the intended populations: uninsured and underinsured Americans. Currently, the patient eligibility criteria are ill-defined and reportedly have allowed providers to offer well-insured patients co-pay discounts that may lure them away from community pharmacies, while diverting limited federal funding from the neediest of patients. We seek a more practical definition to include only patients who do not have prescription drug insurance.

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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