Southeastern Grocers hosted Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Member Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL, third from right) in Birmingham, Ala. The pharmacy team said the senator was engaged and “extremely supportive.” Jones noted that he signed on to a recent letter to President Trump, along with 27 other members of the Senate, expressing disappointment that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not include DIR fee reform in its 2020 plan year. The team said Jones indicated he would continue to find ways to eliminate DIR fees by supporting the Phair Pricing Act, in addition to other paths to help reduce patient medication costs.
During the Fourth of July congressional recess, members of Congress learned firsthand about key pharmacy issues—particularly about the need for direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee relief as part of a drug-pricing legislative package.
Legislators returned to their home states and congressional districts during the recess, which presented an excellent opportunity to showcase pharmacy’s value, in addition to putting the challenges pharmacies are currently facing in clear perspective. Members of Congress and their staff members participated in more than 20 pharmacy tours as part of the NACDS RxIMPACT pharmacy program.
Other examples of pharmacy tours taking place include:
- Regional Director for Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) at Hartig Drug Company, Inc., in Independence, Iowa.
- Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) at Brookshire Grocery Co. in Lafayette, La.
- Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) at Discount Drug Mart in Wooster, Ohio
- Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) at H-E-B in Midland, Tex.
- District Representative for Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) at Kmart Pharmacy/Sears Holdings Co. in Las Vegas, Nev.
- Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) at Stop & Shop in Worcester, Mass.
- Field Representative for House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Member Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) at The Save Mart Supermarkets in Sacramento, Calif.
- Good Neighbor Pharmacy hosted Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) in Roanoke, Va., and Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) in Oak Ridge, N.C.
- The Kroger Co. hosted Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) in Charlestown, Ind.; House Energy & Commerce Committee Member Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Chief of Staff for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) in Brookfield, WI; and Northeast Regional Representative for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) in Greenville, NC.
Additional pharmacy tour photos:
In Stuart, Fla., Southeastern Grocers hosted Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL, center), a U.S. Army veteran who served in the elite Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. The pharmacy team said it was a “fantastic” tour. The team outlined the devastating effects DIR fees are having on pharmacies. Mast expressed interest in learning more about what he can do based on the comprehensive materials the team gave him for further review.
House Ways & Means Committee Member Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE, far left) participated in a pharmacy tour at Albertsons Companies in Scottsbluff, Neb. Smith lives near the store and knows the pharmacy team. The pharmacy team was able to clarify the toll DIR fees are having on pharmacies, which they indicated gave Smith a better understanding of the effect they are having on their business.
NACDS Board Member Lynne Fruth, president and chairman of the board of Fruth Pharmacy, (right) met with Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) to discuss DIR fee relief. Fruth indicated that Miller stated she supports DIR fee reform.
Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA, second from right) toured The Bartell Drug Company in Issaquah, Wash. The pharmacy team shared their concerns about DIR fees and explained their impact on the rising costs to run a pharmacy business. The team emphasized the accessibility of pharmacists and their commitment to helping patients find ways to save on out-of-pocket expenses and lowering overall health costs. The team also described their work on opioid abuse prevention, as part of the solution to the ongoing crisis.