Arkansas Delegation Responds to Failed CMS Rule Change

May 20, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced its final drug pricing rule, which fails to address the direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees levied by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) onto pharmacists. The announcement follows a letter sent by the Arkansas delegation to HHS Secretary Alex Azar in support of a proposed rule change which would have essentially eliminated DIR fees.

“Small town pharmacists are critical to Arkansas’s health care, and this drug pricing rule fails to give them the support they need. Rural communities stand to lose the most, as independent pharmacists have no choice but to raise out-of-pocket costs to compensate for hefty PBM fees. I hope DHS reconsiders this rule to alleviate burdens on pharmacies in Arkansas and across the country.”U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Fourth District

“I am disappointed that the final rule does not provide the relief desperately needed by Arkansas’s independent pharmacists and seniors. Pharmacy Benefit Managers continue their efforts to decimate local pharmacy services in rural states like Arkansas by levying unfair and punitive fees long after transactions are final. These actions accomplish nothing but to decrease healthcare access for folks in rural areas, exterminate small businesses, and grant PBMs with a major windfall. I hope HHS will closely examine PBMs’ actions to better understand their widespread damage to patients, pharmacists, and rural America.” – U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), First District

“This is a missed opportunity by CMS to add more transparency and competition for prescription drug pricing in Part D and Medicare Advantage. Failing to reform DIR fees makes it more difficult for the 384 independent community pharmacies throughout Arkansas to operate their small businesses and serve their customers.  This especially hurts our seniors living in rural communities where access to affordable prescription drugs is declining.”U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), Second District

“We want families to have access to quality care and services, and I’m disappointed that HHS failed to implement common-sense DIR reforms. Our policies should incentivize cost-savings for patients and support the work of dedicated community pharmacists – the current rule will not support those objectives. I urge the Department to rethink its decision, which will hurt rural communities, seniors, and independent pharmacies.”U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Third District