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 Friday.

More Friends in High Places | NCPA Executive Update | November 18, 2016

by NCPA | Nov 17, 2016

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

Pharmacy champion and scourge of the PBMs Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia made a bid for a GOP leadership post this week and won the job of vice chair of the House Republican Conference. That puts him No. 5 in the House leadership hierarchy, a spot behind another pharmacy champion, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who is conference chair.

With all the uncertainty in Washington, D.C., right now, it's nice to have some friends in high places.

Collins represents Georgia's 9th congressional district in the northeast corner of the state that borders North and South Carolina and a bit of Tennessee. He is a lawyer and a minister, a combination that you wouldn't necessarily think would take a deep dive into the opaque world of PBM practices. He has made himself an expert and a feared adversary of PBMs because of his relationships with the independent community pharmacists in his district and his study of the issues they brought to his attention. They knew him when he was "just Doug," when he was a member of the Georgia State Legislature, and before he became Representative Collins, 5th ranking Republican in the House.

Relationships matter. The new Congress, the 115th in our history, will be sworn in on January 3. There will be about 60 new members. But whether your Senators and Representative are veterans or rookies, establishing contact with them and their staff is our best hope of affecting the changes that can help your business be successful and continue taking care of your patients. PBMs don't listen to us, but members of Congress usually do. That is no guarantee they'll do the right thing, of course, but if they don't hear from us they may not even know what the right thing is.

During last month's NCPA Annual Convention, keynote speaker Greg Bell said, "We have moved from the technology age to the relationship age." The people President-elect Trump is rumored to be considering for administration appointments (as is true with every new administration) is a reminder that who you know can be as important as what you know.

I think Bell's observation is especially valid in this day and age when most of us are inundated with more information than we can possibly digest. When my oldest son makes the mistake of asking me a question about building a computer, I refer him to my computer science major brother, because I know he knows about computers and he's a trusted source of information.

Community pharmacy needs those kind of relationships with pharmacy decision makers whether they be a member of Congress or the decision maker for your local employers.

Last week, I spoke at the excellent Pharmacy Compounding Centers of America (PCCA) International Seminar and attended a PAC breakfast for Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.). One of the questions he was asked was, what is the best way to convey concerns to Congress. Aderholt advised to "develop a relationship" and added (pay particular attention here) "before you need something."

Get on your lawmakers' radar screen. Invite them to your pharmacy. Members of Congress are always interested in community visibility opportunities whether the next election is weeks or months or even years away. Even if it's with a staffer, don't underestimate their influence on their bosses.

If a contact is made, it will be recorded and remembered. (Get ready for regular congressional newsletters.) NCPA can help. Contact michael.rule@ncpanet.org for assistance setting up a pharmacy visit.

The role PBMs play in rising drug prices has gone mainstream. Stories about them are no longer confined to trade journals. Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fierce Pharma are just of few of the major publications that have been probing PBMs this year.

TV stations from Minnesota to Ohio to Louisiana have covered them, too. The broadcasts exposed patient copay clawbacks, interviewed pharmacists contractually forbidden to initiate conversations about less expensive drugs, and got lawmakers and government officials to "express concern."

Independent community pharmacy's strength is in its personal relationships with its patients. Use your patient relationships to leverage your congressional relationships Get started soon—before you need something.

Best,
Doug Hoey