Arkansas Delegation Responds to Disappointing CMS Rule Change

Washington, DC–Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced their final drug pricing rule, which fails to address the unreasonable 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 Azar in support of the proposed rule, which would have essentially eliminated DIR fees.

Upon the HHS’s announcement, Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01) released the following statement:

“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.” 

Congressman French Hill (AR-02) said:

“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.”

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-03) said:

“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.”

Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) said:

“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 HHS reconsiders this rule to alleviate burdens on pharmacies in Arkansas and across the country.”

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