NCPA backs bill to enhance pharmacy competition

Helps level playing field for independent community pharmacists

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday announced support for the Quality Health Care Coalition Act of 2011 (H.R. 1409), which was introduced last week by House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, in an effort to improve the quality of patient care by leveling the playing field between healthcare professionals and insurance companies in the healthcare industry.

“Currently, the insurance industry, including healthcare insurance providers, is immune from federal antitrust laws under the McCarran-Ferguson Act,” Conyers stated. “As a result, the playing field is woefully unbalanced. By restoring the freedom of medical professionals to voluntarily come together to negotiate as a group with HMOs and insurance companies, this bill removes a government-imposed barrier to a true free market in health care.”

In response to the legislation, NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey said, “the competitive landscape is particularly inequitable in the pharmacy marketplace. The major [pharmacy benefit managers] administer drug plans and operate rival mail-order pharmacies. This inherent conflict of interest creates an even greater incentive for benefit managers to restrict patient choice of pharmacy and impose unfair audit and reimbursement practices.”

This marks the fourth iteration of the Quality Health Care Coalition Act. In 2000, the House passed similar legislation, H.R. 1304, the Quality Healthcare Coalition Act of 1999, offered by Reps. Tom Campbell, R-Calif., and Conyers. That bill passed the House by a vote of 276-136 but was not taken up the Senate. Similar legislation was introduced in the 107th (H.R. 3897) and 108th (H.R. 1120) congresses.

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