This week, I attended an invited prescription drug pricing forum in Sen. Rick Scott's office. No matter how many times you visit the Hill, it's hard not to find yourself in gawk mode as you walk the hallowed halls. There's Sen. So-and-So's office and THERE's Sen. So-and-So himself! Those offices – all 535 House and Senate offices – are spread out in six buildings around the Capitol. Looking down the corridors, your eyes are drawn to the nameplates prominently displayed outside each door.
Behind those doors are members of the House, the Senate and their knowledgeable staffers – decision makers who shape policy that affects you and your pharmacy, including policies that impact payment for over half of the prescriptions community pharmacies dispense. These are doors of opportunity for you, and on April 10 and 11, NCPA is helping you walk through them.
There's always plenty of pharmacy issues to talk about with legislators and that's especially true this year. In addition to the hot issue of prescription drug pricing it's also possible that CMS will release their Final Rule on prohibiting retroactive pharmacy price concessions, aka nefarious pharmacy DIR fees before or even during the NCPA Fly-In. Over 96 percent of NCPA members have had pharmacy DIR fees as their No. 1 issue in NCPA surveys. Hence, it has been the issue on which we have focused our advocacy efforts. Years of work will be coming to a head when the Final Rule is released. CMS' proposed rule would eliminate retroactive pharmacy DIR fees as we have known them. We're hopeful that's what becomes the Final Rule. If it does, there will be reason to thank legislators. If it doesn't ... well, there will be much to discuss with legislators.
Our 51st Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In gives you a chance to talk face to face with people who make policy that affects your profession, your business and your pocketbook. It's a chance to show your members of Congress that you're more than a number. You're a person with real problems and concerns. Legislative advocacy is what NCPA does best. We are a megaphone for community pharmacy's voice, but we need your voice too!
As I left the Hart Senate Office building, people were lined up at security to visit Senate offices and share their perspective. It's likely there was someone in that line from the PBM industry ready to trot out their predictable spin that "PBM tools save money." The NCPA advocacy team is on the Hill all the time, but nothing beats the power of a voter telling their elected official what's actually happening in the real world. If you decide to stay home, a story will be told, but it may not be YOUR story. You know that the pharmacy payment model must be changed. But if you're not there to tell your story, someone else will tell their story.
This is why we've done Congressional Fly-ins for over 50 years. We've seen over and over that our members have tremendous power on the Hill. If you've never done a Fly-In, make 2019 your first year. You won't be alone unless you want to be. You'll be part of a group, supported by the NCPA advocacy team, that will make it comfortable for you to share your reality.
This is a critical time for independent pharmacy. You have a unique chance to speak your piece and make a difference, simply by walking through a door.
I saw a quote by Lyndon Johnson that really sums up the Congressional Pharmacy Fly-In. "We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip people to walk through those doors."
We give you the information you need and the opportunity to make those contacts.
Will you walk through that open door? I hope you will. Your future may depend on that simple step.