ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Bipartisan legislation that would let pharmacists devote more time to Medicare beneficiaries and less to adjudicating claims with pharmacy benefit management firms was introduced in the U.S. Senate and won the backing of the National Community Pharmacists Association earlier this week.
"Patients trust independent community pharmacists for the expert medication counseling and other services that they provide, such as immunizations and diabetes counseling," stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. "Unfortunately, these … small business owners face an increasing number of indefensible barriers to providing the level of care that their patients deserve and have come to expect. Often this is due to the unchecked authority that pharmacy benefit managers have over community pharmacies," Hoey said. "This bipartisan legislation would achieve a more balanced business relationship between PBMs and community pharmacies and thereby allow pharmacists to continue putting patients first in health care."
The Medicare Prescription Drug Program Integrity and Transparency Act (S. 867) was introduced by Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan. It would focus pharmacy audits on uncovering actual fraud and abuse, bring transparency to generic drug reimbursement rates and give Medicare beneficiaries additional privacy and other protections.
"When a pharmacist gives a patient the right medication at the right time, at the right cost, it should not be a punishable offense," Hoey said. "Audits, of course, must be conducted, but they should not be exploited by middlemen at the expense of Medicare and the taxpayer," Hoey said. "This bill [will] address some of the most challenging roadblocks to pharmacists providing even better patient care. Community pharmacists should get engaged at the grassroots level and encourage their members of Congress to support this legislation."
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