Reps. McMorris Rodgers, Marino Address NCPA Meeting; Urge Grassroots Action by Pharmacists

By Kevin Schweers

Two leading Members of Congress delivered stirring speeches championing pro-patient, pro-pharmacist bills that each has introduced and implored independent community pharmacists and others to take grassroots action to advance the legislation.

The remarks were delivered at NCPA’s 45th annual Legislative Conference in Washington.

An attorney and former prosecutor, U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) is the lead sponsor of H.R. 1188, the Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act of 2013. The bipartisan measure would allow independent community pharmacies to band together, under certain circumstances, and collectively negotiate both better pricing on prescription drugs as well as more equitable contract terms and conditions, including reimbursement, with health insurance plans or their intermediaries, such as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

Antitrust laws haven’t kept up with the times when it comes to the challenges that small pharmacies face, Marino argues. He’s committed to the legislation but needs pharmacists’ help for the bill to take the next step.

A three-time cancer survivor, Marino has spoken of how his local independent pharmacist in Williamsport, PA delivered specialized medication to the Representative the evening he returned home from the hospital. Years earlier, that pharmacist helped ensure his daughter had the vital medical supplies that she needed to battle cystic fibrosis when they unexpectedly ran out during a trip to England.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is Chairman of the House Republican Conference and a sponsor of H.R. 1024, the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013.

“Despite being an invaluable part of health care,” community pharmacists face challenges, McMorris Rodgers said. “They need to be reimbursed for the work they are doing—medication therapy management. Medicare pays for MTM for patients with multiple chronic conditions, but not those with a single chronic condition.

“It makes sense to me that patients with chronic conditions benefit from the sage advice of a pharmacist. That’s true for those with one chronic disease as well,” she argued.

The legislation will benefit patients, recognize the work of pharmacists and is important to the economy as well, she noted, given the nearly $290 billion spent dealing with the medical consequences of patients who do not adhere to their medications.

“MTM works. Our bill also requires an Institute of Medicine Study to document the savings to all of Medicare of expanding of MTM,” she added, citing research documenting lower health costs through MTM. “We’re going to show that MTM works.”

NCPA supports both bills. Pharmacists and others can take simple steps to make their voice heard in support of these and other bills through NCPA’s Legislative Action Center.

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