ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Rural Health Association on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., strongly supporting the bill she introduced in March — H.R. 4215, the Medicare Pharmacy Transparency and Fair Auditing Act. The bill helps safeguard patient access to independent community pharmacists and addresses abusive pharmacy auditing practices, while allowing legitimate Medicare Part D anti-fraud oversight to continue.
“With approximately 50% of independent community pharmacies located in towns with populations of 20,000 people or less, preserving access to pharmacy services in rural America is an important reason to support this bipartisan legislation," noted Douglas Hoey, CEO National Community Pharmacists Association, regarding the letter. “The National Rural Health Association is the leading advocate for rural healthcare concerns, so its support is noteworthy," he added. "This common-sense legislation will help ensure that when a pharmacist dispenses the right medication to the right patient at the right time as prescribed by a doctor, it isn’t a punishable offense simply because of a harmless clerical discrepancy. In addition, the bill returns the focus of pharmacy audits to their original intent of uncovering real fraud and requires that any funds collected during an audit be passed back to Medicare and beneficiaries, not retained by the middleman.”
In its letter, NRHA argues that the current pharmacy benefit manager business model must be reined in. The letter goes on to explain that “the obstacles faced by healthcare providers and patients in rural areas are vastly different and greater than those in other geographic areas.” As a consequence, the letter concludes, “inadequate access to a community pharmacist can reduce medication adherence and by definition, limits the ability of patients to benefit from the healthcare services provided by community pharmacies.”
Audit reforms have been enacted in nearly 20 states on a bipartisan basis, according to NCPA. Most recently, reforms have been enacted in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.