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Congressional Community Pharmacy Coalition To Protect Community Pharmacies and Preserve Patient Access
Date:9/27/2007

Co-Chairs Are Reps. Berry, Moran, McMorris Rodgers, and Weiner

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today applauds the official launch of the bipartisan Congressional Community Pharmacy Coalition. The Coalition's primary objective is to preserve patient access to community pharmacies by restoring fairness and pragmatism to a health care system that devalues these small business owners who often reside in underserved rural and urban communities.

"The cavalry has arrived to restore the way community pharmacies ought to be treated," said Bruce Roberts, RPh, NCPA executive vice president and CEO. "The Congressional Community Pharmacy Coalition has put partisanship aside to recognize that these small business owners are a critical cog in the wheel that keeps the American people healthy and our economy vibrant."

The 34 original members, which include 4 co-chairs, have long worked closely with NCPA and view the Coalition's creation as the next logical step in championing the needs of the 23,000 community pharmacies, 300,000 small business jobs they provide, and the millions of patients they serve.

During the call the Coalition's co-chairs Reps. Marion Berry (D- Ark.),Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) described how the slow reimbursement of Medicare Part D claims; the pending cut in Medicaid generic prescription drug reimbursement, and the inability to negotiate reasonable contracts with the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) like their publicly trade chain drug store counterparts, are forcing community pharmacies out of business and putting their patients' health at risk.

The legislative solutions that Coalition members advocate in the 110th Congress are H.R.1474, the Fair and Speedy Treatment of Medicare Prescription Drug Act; H.R.3140, the Saving Our Community Pharmacies Act; and H.R.971, the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act.

"The reality is that many patients will suffer if Congress doesn't step up to create a reasonable business environment for community pharmacies to operate in," said McMorris Rodgers. "That's why I view the Congressional Community Pharmacy Coalition as being more than a legislative group dedicated to advancing common-sense small business measures, but as championing the interests of their patients in communities across the country who are seeing their access to these trusted health care professionals threatened."

"When the PBMs don't pay their reimbursements in full or on time, community pharmacies are stuck holding the bill," said Berry. Many of these small businesses are forced take large loans or even close shop because they cannot afford to wait months for the money they are owed," said Berry. "H.R. 1474 creates a timeframe for community pharmacy reimbursement of Medicare Part D claims. As a former pharmacist, I realize that pharmacies are often the only medical professional available in rural communities, which is why we cannot let them go out of business due to unjust practices that can be easily remedied."

"The Congressional Community Pharmacy Coalition has the simple goal of treating community pharmacies with the type of respect they deserve," said Rep. Moran. "That goal will be met by passing bills such as H.R. 3140, which establishes a reimbursement benchmark that actually reflects pharmacy acquisition cost for Medicaid generic prescription drugs. The clock is ticking because in few months the reimbursement system will cause pharmacy doors to close by gutting those payments to an economically unsustainable level."

"The deck is stacked against community pharmacies," said Rep. Weiner. "This Coalition wants to level the playing field for our neighborhood pharmacists with the big chains of the world by providing prompt payment under Medicare Part D, a fair reimbursement rate under Medicaid and better negotiating rights for our essential community pharmacies."

The Coalition's other members include Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.), Chris Carney (D-Pa.), Geoff Davis (R-Ky.), Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Thelma Drake (R-Va.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Virgil Goode (R-Va.), Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Nick Lampson (D-Texas), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Charlie Melancon (D-La.), Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas),Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.),Peter Sessions (R-Texas), Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Charles Wilson (D-Ohio).

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) represents the nation's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 pharmacies. The nation's independent pharmacies, independent pharmacy franchises, and independent chains represent an $84 billion marketplace, employ over 300,000 employees and dispense nearly half of the nation's retail prescription medicines. For more information go to http://www.ncpanet.org.


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SOURCE National Community Pharmacists Association
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