We are living in extraordinary times. For the first time in decades, people are standing up all over the U.S. to take a stand for what they believe in. For the first time, we have a medium at hand where anyone can be heard, and groups of like-minded individuals can seek each other out, join together, and make a real difference. That’s why it’s important for independent pharmacists to join together and impact the regulations that will surely impact our business – and out livelihoods.
We face challenges today that could force small independent pharmacies out of business. Pharmacy benefit managers have made it increasingly difficult for independent pharmacies to make a profit. Mergers between major PBMs like Medco and Express Scripts will only exacerbate the issue. The bigger they are, the harder they are to oppose. If this merger is allowed to take place, ESI–Medco would control a whopping 30% of all prescriptions and 80% of those issued by private insurers. Between mail-order pharmacy and massive chain stores, the crumbs left over for independent pharmacy would dwindle to nothing.
Saving the independent pharmacy requires action. The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) is a group that identifies political actions important to independent pharmacists. Visit the NCPA action center website to oppose the ESI-Medco merger, weigh in on congressional Medicare and Medicaid budget cuts that will most certainly disproportionately impact independent pharmacies, advocate PBM reform, and raise your voice on many other issues facing the industry today.
One issue on the PBM reform table is the “Preserving Our Hometown Independent Pharmacies Act,” legislation designed to allow independent pharmacies to band together for PBM negotiation purposes, giving smaller pharmacies a similar advantage to big chain drugs stores. It won’t give independents the upper hand, but at least it will bring the PBMs to the table.
As pharmacists, we have the right and the duty to speak out in defense of our businesses and our professions, because there is no one else to speak for us. As the baby boomers age and the medical industry becomes overburdened, pharmacists will be even more necessary, and yet the squeeze is on. Congress needs to hear your voice.
In a recent article, Bob Greenwood, the president of NCPA, said, “As pharmacists, we must take it upon ourselves to educate health-plan sponsors and our elected officials about our unique role in healthcare. And we must impress upon them the necessity of their support for solutions to the challenges facing our industry.”
Have you gotten involved in the politics of the profession? We’d love to know what you think about what’s going on, and how you expect political maneuvering to affect your career.