DIR legislation introduced in the House of Representatives

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DIR legislation introduced in the House of Representatives

By Michael Johnsen - 02/15/2017

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday endorsed bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., that prohibits pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration fees from being applied after the point-of-sale for prescription drugs dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries.

“DIR fees are like the ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over pharmacies," stated Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO. "Pharmacies dispense medication and are reimbursed, only to have a portion of that payment clawed back by pharmacy benefit managers weeks or months after the transaction. There’s often little way to anticipate the fees, and pharmacists are seldom provided sufficient justification for the clawback," he said. "It’s a maddening way to operate a business, so it’s no wonder community pharmacists identified this as their top 2017 priority. NCPA strongly supports H.R. 1038 [Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Drug Spending Act] because, when enacted, it would end retroactive pharmacy DIR fees."

He added that a recent analysis from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services demonstrates that it isn’t just pharmacies that are hurt by pharmacy DIR fees. “The CMS fact sheet asserts that pharmacy DIR fees not only fail to reduce the cost of drugs for beneficiaries at the point-of-sale, but actually push seniors into the Medicare Part D ‘doughnut hole’ where beneficiaries are responsible for all the costs, and to the catastrophic coverage phase where the government and taxpayers assume nearly all of the costs. H.R. 1038 would also address these problems.”

A similar bill was introduced late last year, Hoey noted. "A previous version of the bill generated plenty of bipartisan, bicameral support last year, even though it was introduced only weeks before the 114th Congress adjourned," he said. "Now the bill has been reintroduced. Supporting it is the right thing to do.”

Additional members of Congress who are sponsors of H.R. 1038, include (in alphabetical order) Reps. Bruce Babin, R-Texas, Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Rod Blum, R-Iowa, Buddy Carter, R-Ga., Doug Collins, R-Ga., Rick Crawford, R-Ark., Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., Walter Jones, R-N.C., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Phil Roe, R-Tenn., and Pete Sessions, R-Texas.

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