Congressman Marion Berry joined a bipartisan group of Members at a press conference today hosted by the National Community Pharmacists Association to highlight issues and legislation affecting community pharmacies. Berry is the only former pharmacist currently serving in the House of Representatives.
"Because community pharmacists are often the only medical professional available in a community, they are critical health care providers we must support," said Berry. "As we move forward with health care reform, we must not forget to tackle unfair prescription drug policies that have detrimentally affected too many community pharmacies across the nation."
Last year, Congressman Berry's Bill H.R. 1474, the Fair and Speedy Treatment (FAST) of Medicare Prescription Drug Claims Act of 2007, which had a total of 253 cosponsors was enacted into law as part of H.R. 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.
This law mandates that claims submitted by pharmacists electronically to insurance companies must be paid within 14 days, and all other claims must be paid within 30 days. In addition, the law delayed the implementation of a change to the Medicaid drug pricing formula which would have changed Medicaid's payment limits to be based on the Average Manufacturers Price. This will ensure that pharmacies continue to be reimbursed fairly while a new reimbursement formula is developed.
This year Congressman Berry has introduced H.R. 616, which would make community pharmacists exempt from a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) accreditation requirement in order to sell Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS). Currently, pharmacists are the only medical professionals that are not exempt. Also, Congressman Berry recently introduced H.R. 684, the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act of 2009. The bill creates a Medicare administered prescription drug plan to provide seniors an alternative to the more expensive, privately administered prescription drug plans currently offered under Part D.
"We have made some victories like enacting Prompt Pay but there is still a lot of work to do," Berry continued. "We must ensure our health care system allows community pharmacies to continue to serve the people who need them most."