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    Pharmacists to Descend on Washington

    DIR fees and health-care reform will lead pharmacists’ legislative concerns.

    Affordable Care Act reforms and direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees are two of the hot-button issues pharmacists will address with legislators at NCPA’s 2017 Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In at the end of April.

    Hundreds of community pharmacists will travel to Washington on April 26 and 27 to advocate for enacting legislation to ban retroactive DIR fees. Other topics they will address include ensuring community pharmacies and the patients they serve are protected in any Obamacare repeal/replace reforms or Medicaid reforms, and increasing the transparency and oversight of maximum allowable cost pricing in federal programs through the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act.

    Related article: Pharmacists Pushing for DIR Relief

    The pharmacists who travel to Washington will also push for allowing any willing pharmacy to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks and for the passage of pharmacist provider status legislation.

    DeAnn MullinsDeAnn Mullins“As the scrutiny on the abuses of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) intensifies, it’s more important than ever for community pharmacists to come together on behalf of our patients and press our case to Congress. We’ll be urging them to take action on legislation aimed at ending crippling DIR fees collected retroactively,” said NCPA President DeAnn Mullins, BPharm, CDE. Mullins is owner of Mullins Pharmacy, WeCare Wellness, and the WeCare Diabetes Education Program in Lynn Haven, FL.

    In fact, repealing DIR fees was rated the top priority for 2017 by independent community pharmacists, B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA, told Drug Topics. “We have been told that 2017 pharmacy DIR fees are generally higher than in 2016 … and we’ve also seen some former owners cite this specifically as a factor in their decision to close their community pharmacy practice.”Doug HoeyDoug Hoey

    In addition to DIR fees, “We’ll also be asking them to act quickly to move on legislation that would require reasonable transparency in PBM pricing and reimbursement practices,” Mullins said.

    Related article: DIRs: PBMs Pay Less Each Year While Prices Go Up

    The NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In is a “once-a-year opportunity for community pharmacists to flex their political muscle,” Mullins said. “We’ll meet with elected officials in person about these critical issues, and we’ll make a difference for our patients. I strongly encourage all community pharmacists and community pharmacy supporters to join us as we fill the halls of Congress this April to advocate for small business pharmacies and the patients we serve.”

    The two-day event will include a legislative briefing on Capitol Hill with Jim McCrery, a former Republican representative from Louisiana and now a partner at Capitol Counsel, and a breakfast keynoted by Jayne O’Donnell, health-care reporter for USA Today. Pharmacists will be on Capitol Hill to conduct meetings with their members of Congress.

    Pharmacists and other interested individuals can register for the event at www.ncpanet.org/flyin or by calling 1-800-544-7447.

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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