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NCPA: Leading Business Groups Back Medicare Access, Pharmacy Choice Legislation
Date:12/17/2015

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two prominent, national business organizations recently expressed their support for bipartisan "any willing pharmacy" legislation to increase patient access to prescription drugs at their pharmacy of choice. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and National Grocers Association (NGA) have written to Congress to endorse the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 793 / S. 1190).

Currently Medicare beneficiaries are effectively forced to use only those pharmacies hand-picked by their drug plan (sometimes called "preferred" pharmacies). Patients' pharmacies of choice are often excluded by the drug plan, forcing seniors and caregivers to pay more or make a long trip to the plan's "preferred" pharmacy. H.R. 793 / S. 1190 would allow Medicare beneficiaries to utilize their pharmacy of choice, provided it is located in a medically underserved area and willing to accept the drug plan's contract terms and conditions.

"We write to voice our support for legislation that would improve access to prescription drugs for seniors and help level the playing field for small business community pharmacies operating under Medicare," wrote NFIB and NGA.

They added, "In many rural and urban communities, independent pharmacies may be the sole option for residents to conveniently fill their prescriptions. These pharmacies also provide employment opportunities and greatly contribute to their local economies. Yet they are still denied the opportunity to accept 'preferred' pharmacy contracts."

"It's encouraging to see that support continues to grow for this bipartisan legislation to give seniors easier access to prescription medication at their pharmacy of choice," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA. "We commend these business leaders for voicing their support for patients and the pharmacists who care for them. NCPA will continue to fight for a level playing field when it comes to exclusionary drug plans that undermine patient choice and health."

In addition, Hoey noted the following:

  • Medicare officials have estimated the "any willing pharmacy" policy would not increase costs to the Medicare program. In fact they called the policy "the best way to encourage price competition and lower costs in the Part D program."
  • H.R. 793 / S. 1190 also has the support of leading consumer advocacy organizations, including The AIDS Institute; Alliance for Retired Americans; Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.; Families USA; HealthHIV; Justice in Aging; LeadingAge; Medicare Rights Center; National Consumers League; National Grange: National Rural Health Association; Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE); and U.S. Pain Foundation.
  • Three-out-of-four likely voters (76%) support this policy, according to a national poll by Penn Schoen Berland. Support for the proposal is high among Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent an $81.4 billion health care marketplace and employ more than 314,000 individuals on a full or part-time basis. To learn more, go to www.ncpanet.org, visit facebook.com/commpharmacy, or follow NCPA on Twitter @Commpharmacy.

The National Grocers Association (NGA) is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent supermarket sector is accountable for close to one percent of the nation's overall economy and is responsible for generating $131 billion in sales, 944,000 jobs, $30 billion in wages, and $27 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers.  For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.

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