Powerful, Diverse Coalition Urges Congressional Leaders to Strengthen PBM Transparency Provision in Final Health Care Reform Bill

Alexandria, Va. - January 14, 2010

Twenty-four prominent consumer rights, labor and public interest groups—including the Consumer Federation of America, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), and the National Legislative Association on Prescription Drug Prices (NLARx)—sent a joint letter urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to combine the best pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) transparency provisions from the separate health care reform bills they are reconciling. 

Many of these groups previously supported PBM transparency amendments by Representative Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) as health care reform legislation moved through the House andSenate

"PBMs' secretive, profit-padding practices are creating greater health care costs for everyone else. These transparency provisions, while modest, represent the most sweeping federal regulation of PBMs yet," said Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) executive vice president and CEO. "We agree with the impressive coalition of consumer and labor advocates that the final health care reform bill must include the best aspects of the PBM transparency provisions that emerged from the House and Senate." 

Other signatories to the letter are AFSCME—District Council 37 Health & Security Plan (NY), California Alliance of Retired Americans, CALPIRG, Community Catalyst, Center for Medical Consumers, Congress for California Seniors, Connecticut Citizens Action Group, Health Care for All (MA), Long Island Health Access Monitoring Project, Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative (MD), Massachusetts PIRG, Medicare Rights Center, Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign, National Women's Health Network, NC Justice Center's Health Access Coalition, Our Bodies Ourselves, Public Citizen, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, Teamsters Union 25 Health Services & Insurance Plan (MA), Tennessee Health Care Campaign, and UHCAN Ohio. 

The letter, which can be viewed in its entirety here, includes several critical points that are excerpted below: 

"Transparency is a key component in curbing health care spending. It gives health plans and consumers the tools they need to ensure that their money is well spent, and that the plan receives a reasonable portion of the savings and rebates accrued by the PBM on their behalf. Large plan sponsors with the bargaining power to demand transparency have enjoyed considerable savings as a result." 

"We appreciate Senator Cantwell and her staff's efforts in support of PBM transparency. Both Senator Cantwell's language and the House language provide plan sponsors with the information that is absolutely necessary to account for prescription drug spending and seek to reduce it." 

"As representatives of consumers' and workers' interests, we hope you will make these improvements to the final health reform legislation. Our nation stands to achieve significant savings on prescription drugs if the House language on PBM transparency is integrated in the final health reform bill along with the Senate's explicit application of these requirements for Medicare Part D plans." 

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

Ask Your Family Pharmacist TM