Legislation Watch

Medicare Set-Aside Blog on July 3, 2008
Posted by Jean S. Goldstein, JD, CMSP

The Community Pharmacy Fairness Act, or HR 971, has been adamantly supported by the independent drugstore lobby in an attempt to gain collective bargaining rights which could ultimately increase the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare and commercial payors. According to a study published by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), if this legislation passes, the cost to such payors could increase as much as almost $30 billion over five years. Even more shocking, the costs to Medicare Part D specifically (and its beneficiaries) is estimated to be more than $6 billion in that same time. In an economy where citizens and lawmakers alike are constantly concerned with efforts to preserve the Medicare trust, this bill could serve as quite a blow to the solvency of the program and, ultimately, to beneficiaries themselves who already struggle to stay afloat despite rising pharmaceutical costs and a worsening economy.

PCMA is the national association representing pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) which provide low cost prescription drug plans to more than 210 million Americans, including Medicare Part D beneficiaries. As Mark Merritt, President of PCMA, explained, “Independent pharmacists already have a number of legitimate avenues to negotiate with PBMs. This legislation would instead result in employers reducing health insurance coverage for their employees to compensate for increased prescription drug costs.”

Stay tuned as we track HR 971 and other pending legislation or, for more information, contact MEDVAL.

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