NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every other Friday.

... a Nice, Tall, Frosty Glass of Ipecac Syrup | NCPA Executive Update | April 15, 2016

by NCPA | Apr 15, 2016

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

I'm in Ohio today speaking at the Ohio Pharmacists Association Annual Conference. As usual, OPA's Executive Director, Ernie Boyd, and his team have put together a great program as they continue to effectively represent Ohio pharmacists.

In the past couple weeks, there have been several good examples of the legislative progress being made in the states. Maine became the 29th state to pass generic pricing transparency legislation. Washington and Kentucky each strengthened their existing transparency laws along with Tennessee.

Many other states are also seeing success advocating for common sense legislation on behalf of community pharmacy. While the experience with pricing transparency legislation for many states is still being fine-tuned—not surprisingly, the PBMs have found ways to try to work around many of the laws—the political process in the states seems to be running circles around Congress' plodding pace.

Success in state capitals doesn't mean that efforts at the U.S. Capitol should be abandoned, though. Exactly the opposite, actually. Some of the receptivity in the states may be due to the recognition (or fear) of the federal government's sprawling influence in health care.

Medicare Part D is only 10 years old. Think back before then. How much business did you do with the government? Sure, you participated in Medicaid. Maybe you served some TRICARE patients (if you were close to a military facility). And, you probably had a decent number of patients covered by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan. For the typical pharmacy, the sum of Uncle Sam's business was probably about 25%.

Uncle Sam has bulked up its business with community pharmacies since then. Now, according to the 2015 NCPA Digest, sponsored by Cardinal Health, Medicaid and Medicare Part D alone represent 51% of the average pharmacy's business!

Standing on the sidelines was not an option in 1969 when NCPA had its first Legislative Conference and soon after coined the phrase, "Get into politics or get out of pharmacy." Some pharmacy owners love politics, but many others find politics as inviting as a nice, tall frosty glass of ipecac syrup! They wish the government would just stay out of their business.

The reality is that Uncle Sam's influence on health care is only going to grow. Recall it was a Republican President (George W. Bush) and Congress that forced Medicare Part D through, and it was a Democratic President (Barack Obama) and Congress that forced the Affordable Care Act through.

Whether it comes naturally or it takes a personal pep talk, being involved in politics is not optional. NCPA does some of the heavy lifting for you. Our team in Washington, D.C., keeps an eye out for issues that will impact you and makes sure the collective voice of community pharmacy is heard loud and clear. Our team does great work, but Congress listens to us because it knows we are representing you and that you can't be in Washington most days because you have a business to run, constituents to take care of, and a local economy to stimulate. So, when you have a chance to talk with your elected representatives in-person, take it!

Next month is NCPA's Congressional Pharmacy Summit, May 24-25. We've changed the name from the NCPA Legislative Conference because frankly, we don't spend a lot of time "conferencing." This gathering is about taking action. After a few hours of briefings to unify our message, the rest of the summit is for talking with your elected representatives about what is happening with your business, your patients outside of the Beltway bubble.

The briefing part of the program is short but powerful. We'll have a session on DIR fees with experts who will help combine facts with your powerful examples of how they are affecting your small business.

Several years ago we had a speaker who gave a "Lobbying 101" course. Her presentation had the room sitting upright taking notes—when they weren't rolling in the aisles. Her name is Judy Schneider and she's back again this year.

There's more but, like I said, this meeting is about taking action and concentrating our message here in D.C. Later, we'll ask you to follow up with your lawmakers when they are back in their home states this summer.

Speaking of the states, Ohio sure can pick 'em.

In the last 30 U.S. Presidential elections, Ohio has picked the winner 28 times. That's 93%. So if you're keeping a close eye on this year's presidential election—and really who isn't whether they want to or not—keep an eye on the Buckeye state.

While none of the political pundits predicted where we are today, we do know that no matter the outcome on Nov. 8, the health care policies of the federal government will continue to have an impact on your business. Your elected officials need to hear from you first hand as to how their "action" or "inaction" affects you and your patients.

So, after you consider that impact on your livelihood, I will "See you at the Summit" next month.


Doug Hoey