Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, I rise in support of the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act, S. 1058. In light of the Federal Trade Commission's recent decision to allow the merger of two Pharmacy Benefit Managers, creating the largest PBM in our nation, I call on my colleagues to join me in supporting this vital piece of legislation. The Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act, if enacted, would help protect patients and providers from soaring health-care costs and potentially anticompetitive conduct by PBMs, who are the middlemen in the prescription drug industry.
Over the past several years, I have spoken with many of Mississippi's pharmacists who feel powerless against PBMs and their overreaching influence in their industry. In Mississippi, where over 1 million individuals live in rural, medically underserved areas, community pharmacists play a pivotal role in providing health care to patients. These pharmacists, often the only health-care providers in an area, develop trusting relationships with their customers and communities. This legislation will help level the playing field between community pharmacies and PBMs, while ensuring Americans have access to the providers of their choice.
While a few States, such as my State of Mississippi, regulate the activities of PBMs, these powerful players in health care remain largely unregulated by the Federal Government. PBMs compete across state lines in our country, and this legislation would provide national anti-fraud oversight in each of our 50 States.
The need for this legislation is clearer now than ever. With the upcoming merger, one company will control 40 percent of the market. As one FTC Commissioner appropriately stated, it will be a ``game changer.''
I am an unyielding supporter of free markets, and I strongly believe this legislation would facilitate a more transparent, competitive, and fair marketplace for PBMs, pharmacies, providers, and patients. On behalf of the millions of Americans and businesses affected by the market practices of Pharmacy Benefit Managers, I urge my colleagues to pass the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act.