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The Dose

A Productive Year for Community Pharmacy…And It's Only July

by Michael Rule, Associate Director, Public Affairs and Grassroots | Jul 11, 2017

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So far, 2017 has been a productive year for community pharmacists. Community pharmacy champions in Congress introduced three bills so far to address NCPA's top legislative concerns: banning retroactive pharmacy DIR fees; increasing transparency and oversight of MAC pricing in federal health programs by PBMs; and improving pharmacy choice for seniors under Medicare Part D (learn more about each bill here).

In addition to the quick introduction of these priority bills, community pharmacists have stepped up the number of meetings and pharmacy visits with members of Congress to demonstrate the value of independent pharmacists, the challenges they face, and common-sense health care solutions. Here are a few meeting recaps.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the House Republican Conference Chair, took the time to visit Cathy's Riverpoint Pharmacy in Spokane, Wash. to discuss compounding issues. Rep. McMorris Rodgers represents a vast district and understands the value of independent community pharmacy. She is a supporter of all of our key bills, including H.R. 592 to recognize pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare, and she was also a signatory to letters to FDA encouraging allowing 503A pharmacies to compound for office use and to the Secretary of Defense voicing support for a pharmacy pilot program in TRICARE.

Additionally, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), another member of the House leadership team and longtime advocate for independent pharmacy, visited Woody's Pharmacy in Clermont, Ga. Rep. Collins is the lead sponsor of the MAC transparency bill (H.R. 1316) and, like Rep. McMorris Rodgers, is a strong supporter of all of independent pharmacy's legislative priorities. He has also spoken passionately about the importance of independent pharmacies on the floor of the House and in committee hearings.

In addition to members of the House leadership team, members of the influential House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee also conducted several pharmacy visits. The E&C Committee is one of the committees with jurisdiction over our top priority legislation. Committee member Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) met with several independent pharmacists at Mitchell's Drug Store in Neosho, Mo. Rep. Long is a supporter of pharmacy provider status, and this was an opportunity to discuss other matters such as DIR fees and MAC transparency with him. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), also a supporter of provider status, visited Alco Rx.

Moreover, these pharmacy visits are bipartisan and educational. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) recently visited the Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray in Alexandria, Va. While he has not yet officially supported any of independent pharmacy's legislative priorities, this visit was an opportunity to give him an inside look at the operations of an independent pharmacy and introduce our priorities to him.

Several new members of Congress have also sought opportunities to meet with their local pharmacists. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) participated in a roundtable discussion with the Nebraska Pharmacists Association and local independent pharmacists to discuss some of these issues, and subsequently cosponsored two of our priority bills. Other new members visited an in-district pharmacy, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who visited Sellersville Pharmacy, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who visited Topeka Pharmacy, and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who visited Bay Hometown Pharmacy and was also a signatory to the compounding letter to FDA.

In addition to these in-person meetings, numerous pharmacists took the time to make phone calls or send emails to their members of Congress through the NCPA Legislative Action Center to ask support for these critical issues. NCPA appreciates all of our members who took the time to voice support, whether in-person or through other means, and is grateful to all of the members of Congress who took the time to tour a pharmacy or to meet with their constituent independent pharmacists.

Your voice makes a difference. If you are interested in hosting a pharmacy visit with a member of Congress, the July 29 - Sept. 4 Congressional in-district work period is an ideal time to set up a meeting. Tips on scheduling and conducting a pharmacy visit are available here, or you can contact Michael Rule at NCPA for assistance.