Why this year's Congressional Fly-In is huge - and we need you | NCPA Executive Update | January 26, 2024

NCPA January 25, 2024

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey "A lot of people are afraid they'll mess up or say the wrong thing to a member of Congress, and it's a scary environment – an imposing environment in Washington – and you just have to relax and talk. Speak your mind. That's it. That's how you talk to an elected official."

Truer words have never been spoken about NCPA's annual Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In (April 17-18) — and these words belong to Brewton, Alabama's own Danny Cottrell, a pharmacy owner who has been a mainstay for NCPA and heavily engaged in advocacy efforts over the years. For him, it's an event that represents a calling that all pharmacists, young and old, should answer.

Danny Cottrell"I've always thought [Fly-In] was the most important meeting they could possibly go to," he told America's Pharmacist® recently, "Not only because they could see the Capitol building, but because of how many different federal organizations have a finger in their business now and in the future."

Danny is right. The government isn't one big front door with a mail slot accepting complaints (or compliments). The federal government is a complex organism whose agencies, arms, and representatives work in complicated (and sometimes mysterious) ways. NCPA, backed by members like Danny Cotrell, is a force to be reckoned with because they spend a lot of time with their targets, so to speak.

You know who else spends a lot of time on Capitol Hill? Lobbyists for PBMs, not to mention staffers for their professional groups such as PCMA. PCMA spent a total of $15.4 million on lobbying last year, up from $8.6 million in 2022, which is a gargantuan 78 percent jump! That ranked them fifth on the list of health care lobbyists.

Independent pharmacy owners aren't billion-dollar companies but they do have something that the corporates don't — a lot more votes and connections with their legislators.

Many of you recently flexed your lobbying muscle by communicating more than 5,000 messages to Congress in just a week! We alerted you to urge Congress to finish the job of PBM reform by:

1) Banning spread pricing and reforming pharmacy Medicaid payments (S.2973).

2) Requiring CMS to define reasonable and relevant prescription drug contract terms in Medicare Part D (S. 3430).

    Congress passed a continuing resolution to keep the government funded for an additional few weeks until Mar. 1, so they wound up not voting on these key pharmacy provisions. But, there's a good chance they will be considered when a vote to fund the government comes up in February.

    We will be reaching out to you again in February for a final push, so when March 1 arrives, members of Congress are crystal clear on the need for PBM reform. Let's crush the 5,000 messages you sent last time. This legislation could be once in a generation to help pharmacy owners.

    PCMA is worried about the grassroots influence you have, so they are bombarding your members of Congress and their staff with propaganda. They have paid for radio spots on the most popular news radio station in the D.C. area. It's their same old rhetoric … 'health care costs will go up a ga-zillion dollars, patients will lose access, earthquakes will ensue, the Black Plague will come, etc., etc.' Some politicians will buy into their propaganda without hearing the truth from their constituents.

    As the Voice of Community Pharmacy, NCPA's most important political event is the annual Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In. This is an election year. That means two big things: First, it will be one of the last chances members will have to influence Congress before they hit the campaign trail. Second, it's a chance to remind our elected officials while they're preoccupied with keeping their jobs that you and your patients are voters who need PBM reform. If you can't make it to the Fly-in, there's another way to help. All of our advocacy activities on your behalf are funded by donations to the NCPA Legislative and Legal Defense Fund. It pays for our advocacy team, legal activities, public education campaigns, member communications, media outreach, and more. The LDF is the microphone for the Voice of Community Pharmacy. Please consider donating this year.

    All that's left for you to do is be ready for NCPA's call to action and to register. As Danny Cottrell said, "You just have to relax and talk. Speak your mind. That's it."


    Doug Hoey

    B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA