ALEXANDRIA, Va. Concerned over what they call “exorbitant transaction fees and anticompetitive practices” by credit card companies, independent pharmacy leaders are appealing to Congress for relief.
The appeal comes as the House and Senate work to reconcile their respective financial-reform bills. Amid those negotiations, the National Community Pharmacists Association is urging lawmakers to include in the final legislation “a bipartisan proposal to protect consumers, local pharmacies and other small businesses” from the current fee structure imposed by credit card companies.
That plea came from NCPA SVP government affairs John Coster in a letter to Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., as well as Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. The four serve as the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees.
“On behalf of independent community pharmacies, NCPA urges you to include section 1079 in the Senate's amendment to H.R. 4173, The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, on credit and debit card interchange reform in the final conference report,” Coster wrote. “Unnecessarily high interchange fees disproportionately impact small businesses and the customers they serve.”
Pointing out that the amendment “had the bipartisan support of 64 senators,” Coster called it “a common sense approach to addressing the ever-increasing fees on credit card transactions” that would allow small businesses to remain competitive.
The need for relief from “excessive and unreasonable interchange fees” is even more critical “in this current economic environment, where many businesses are struggling just to stay afloat,” he added.
“The Senate provision would simply give the Federal Reserve the authority to develop regulations which would more accurately reflect the cost of processing the transactions,” Coster told lawmakers. “It would also prohibit some of the anticompetitive rules and practices that credit card companies impose on small businesses. For example, many credit card companies prohibit businesses from setting minimum transaction levels. In many cases, it costs a business more in transaction fees than the actual value of the product being purchased,” NCPA’s chief lobbyist asserted in his letter.