Group of independent business owners urges House leaders to support FAST Act

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In a clear gesture of support for independent pharmacy owners, the National Federation of Independent Business today urged Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to push for a speedier payment system for Medicare prescription claims from retail pharmacies.

The NFIB sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., urging them to include H.R.1474, the Fair and Speedy Treatment of Medicare Prescription Drug Claims Act of 2007, in the Medicare package being considered before Congress adjourns this year. The letter, dated Dec. 13 and signed by Dan Danner, NFIB executive vice president for public policy, could elevate the issue at a critical time.

“While pharmacists typically must pay their suppliers every 15 days, many report waiting as long as 90 days to receive their reimbursements under the Medicare Part D program,” Danner told the lawmakers. “Small and independent pharmacists have indicated the delayed payments have forced them to delay expansions and borrow from their savings to cover payroll, wholesaler bills and other basic operating costs.

“The FAST Act ensures that claims which are submitted electronically are paid within 14 days and all other claims are paid within 30 days,” Danner added.

According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, the FAST Act now has a bipartisan majority of 233 cosponsors in the House. A companion bill working its way through the Senate, known as the Pharmacy Access Improvement Act of 2007, has also drawn bipartisan support, with a majority of the members of the Senate Finance Committee signing on as cosponsors.

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