Alexandria, Va. - June 13, 2012
The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) 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.
In response National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) CEO, B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, issued the following statement:
"With approximately 50 percent 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.
"The National Rural Health Association is the leading advocate for rural health care concerns, so its support is noteworthy. 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 their letter, NRHA argues that the current pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) business model must be reined in. The letter goes on to explain that, "The obstacles faced by health care 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 health care services provided by community pharmacies."
Audit reforms have been enacted in nearly 20 states on a bipartisan basis. Most recently, reforms have been enacted in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.
Excessive audits decrease the time pharmacists can devote to patients, due to varying PBM audit requirements and a burdensome and unsatisfactory audit appeals process. Record keeping requirements go beyond state and federal law and even minor noncompliance often is harshly penalized. Those are the findings of a 2011 NCPA survey of 1,850 community pharmacists.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents the interests of America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies. Together they represent a $93 billion health care marketplace, dispense nearly 40% of all retail prescriptions, and employ more than 315,000 people, including 62,400 pharmacists. Independent community pharmacists are readily accessible medication experts who can help lower health care spending. They are committed to maximizing the appropriate use of lower-cost generic drugs and reducing the estimated $290 billion that is wasted annually by improper medication use. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.
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