Carter, Collins lead lawmakers in requesting federal support for nation’s pharmacies

U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Doug Collins (R-GA) led a bipartisan contingent of more than 100 lawmakers in urging congressional leadership to support the nation’s pharmacies in the next emergency pandemic relief package.

“Many of our districts have seen a wave of pharmacy closures, with more than 2,000 community pharmacies lost over the last two years,” wrote Reps. Carter and Collins, and their colleagues in an April 27 letter sent to congressional leaders. “We cannot afford more closures as we grapple with a national pandemic and need to protect patient medication access.”

As negotiations on the next aid package move forward, the lawmakers requested that House leadership remove the barriers that threaten pharmacy financial stability by enacting pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees clawback reform.

Pharmacy benefit managers impose DIR fees on pharmacy providers after a drug claim has been submitted, adjudicated and even paid out to a pharmacy. DIR fees originally were created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to track annual price adjustments applied to prescription drug plans, but have been increasingly misused to “claw back” reimbursements to pharmacies for Medicare prescriptions.

“Pharmacies report that DIR clawback fees continue to be assessed against them right now, even during this period of intense strain,” according to the lawmakers’ letter. “CMS states that DIR fees grew by 45,000 percent between 2010 and 2017, and now, during this financial crisis in which pharmacies are already struggling, DIR fees threaten to cause more pharmacies to close their doors.”

Pharmacy DIR reform has strong bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and Senate, wrote the congressmen.

“We ask for these reforms to be enacted now and hope that members of Congress will not overlook the critical need to ensure the sustainability of pharmacies during this public health emergency,” they wrote.