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The Dose

Independent Pharmacists Take Advantage of the Congressional August Break

by Michael Rule, Associate Director, Public Affairs and Grassroots | Sep 20, 2017

Congress' annual August in-district work period is traditionally a time of enhanced grassroots activity. This was especially true for independent pharmacists this year as 17 members of Congress made time to visit an independent pharmacy or meet with community pharmacists. These visits have allowed members of Congress to see firsthand the value of independent pharmacists and to hear about common-sense solutions to the challenges they face.

Here are a few meeting recaps:

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), the co-chairman of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and a cosponsor of H.R. 592, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, met with David Miller, owner of Miller's Pharmacy in Wyckoff, and Laurie Clark, representing the New Jersey Pharmacists Association. Miller showed Rep. Gottheimer some examples of clawbacks and underpayments by PBMs and suggested some pointed questions for the Congressman to ask of PBMs.

Another supporter of H.R. 592, Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), visited Ritzman Pharmacy in Medina. Eric Graf, CEO of Ritzman Pharmacies, and Steve Ferris of Discount Drug Mart spoke to the Congressman about DIR fees and urged him to cosponsor H.R. 1038, the Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Drug Spending Act.

Also in Ohio, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) and two of his district staff members visited Bryan's Family Pharmacy in Lebanon. Owner Steve Bartone spoke with Rep. Chabot about legislative priorities for independent pharmacy and how these issues directly impact his pharmacy and community. He also urged the Congressman to support these legislative measures.

In Florida, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), a member of the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, visited Carrollwood Pharmacy in Tampa. Owner Dan Fucarino and other pharmacists in the area discussed several issues with Rep. Castor and heard some of the ideas she supports to reduce prescription drug prices. Fucarino also encouraged her to support independent pharmacy's priority legislation to bring greater transparency to the system and recognize pharmacists as health care providers.

Such meetings with legislators were not limited to members of the House of Representatives, as at least one senator also took the time to visit an independent pharmacy in his home state. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) visited Milburn's Pharmacy in Sullivan to learn more about pharmacy issues.

These are just a few of the meetings from the August in-district work period, and NCPA appreciates all of the independent pharmacists and members of Congress who took time to participate in these face-to-face meetings. Numerous pharmacists also took grassroots action this summer by sending more than 900 email messages through the NCPA Legislative Action Center and making countless calls to their legislators urging support for independent pharmacy's priority legislation.

There are several in-district work periods scheduled for the remainder of 2017 and your voice does make a difference. If you are interested in hosting a pharmacy visit with a member of Congress, you can find tips on scheduling and conducting a pharmacy visit on the NCPA website, or you can contact Michael Rule at NCPA for assistance.