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They Cannot Do Business Like This--Pharmacists Need Our Help

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to call upon Democratic leadership to bring legislation to the floor that will help our independent pharmacies stay in business. The last few years have been difficult for pharmacists across the United States, and many are struggling to keep their doors open due to changes in the Medicare Part D prescription program. In my Kansas district alone, we have lost four pharmacists since this government program went into effect.

* Once again, we are asking pharmacists to bear the burden of our cost-cutting measures. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 made average manufacturers price, AMP, the new basis for the Medicaid Federal upper limit on multi-source, generic prescription drugs. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office released a report indicating that this new pricing system would reimburse pharmacists at 36 percent below what it costs them to buy the prescriptions. I ask you, how can we realistically expect anyone to do business like that?

* We need to make changes quickly; otherwise, these pharmacies will no longer be around to serve customers. Here are some real life examples of Kansas pharmacists who are going to be negatively affected by this change if we do not act soon.

* Many Medicaid patients in Kansas are in treatment for psychiatric conditions. Because of their mental state, they often forget to take their medications. Mike Conlin, a pharmacist in Topeka, has initiated a program in his pharmacy to help his psychiatric patients remember to take their medications by having his staff put the meds in a unit dosage device. This device allows his patients to see at a glance which medications are called for at any particular time of day. Mike stated it will be difficult to offer this individual treatment on a medication that pays him nearly 36 percent less in reimbursement than it actually costs his drugstore.

* In other parts of the State, a great number of our community pharmacists double as the local nursing home pharmacist. Jim Hampton, of Atwood, Kansas, is one such pharmacist. The physicians and staff of the local Atwood home, depend on Jim to advise them daily on such issues as drug-to-drug interactions, new drugs and dosage regimens. While Jim finds great satisfaction in providing these medications and advice on their usage, he must reconsider his ability to serve these geriatric and developmentally disabled patients. And his decision is purely a business decision. Jim will be forced to decide whether his business can really afford to remain viable in selling a product for a price far less than he can acquire that product. Average manufacturer pricing is forcing Jim to do just that. And the ramifications of Jim's decision are far reaching.

* In Phillipsburg, Kansas, there is a young disabled mother that recently gave birth to a child with a heart condition. She was without her Medicaid card yet urgently needed medication for the newborn infant. In fact, she was without a medical card of any type showing that insurance would pay for the medication. The local pharmacist, Rob Wenzl of Wenzl Drug, provided the infant her lifesaving drug. Rob did this despite the fact the new mom had no proof of coverage. Rob is just one more of many pharmacists in rural Kansas that are being forced to consider letting go of their Medicaid patients. The personalized service that Rob enjoys providing his patients, and that personalized care the patients receive, will potentially be eliminated should average manufacturer pricing as currently written be foisted upon our pharmacists.

* Those of us in Congress take our responsibility seriously to stand up for those who are in trouble. I encourage my colleagues to listen to those pharmacists in their districts and encourage Democratic leadership to bring legislation to the floor to fix this problem.

* Access to local pharmacies is important to a strong healthcare system and is, therefore, important to each and every one of us.


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