Published on September 26, 2009 at 1:40 AM
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) today commended the U.S. Senate Finance Committee for approving by unanimous, voice vote an amendment by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to lower health care costs through common-sense disclosure requirements for any pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) participating in the health insurance exchanges envisioned in Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-MT) America’s Healthy Future Act.
“PBMs routinely gobble up significant shares of nearly every prescription drug transaction, passing the costs on to patients and plan sponsors often left in the dark as premiums increase,” said Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, NCPA Executive Vice President and CEO. “Increasingly, public and private payers are rightly asking questions and demanding more equitable pharmacy benefit arrangements. Medicare, the Pentagon, state governments and major companies are all moving in this direction and today’s vote shows the Senate is, too. We commend Senator Cantwell for her leadership on this issue and we sincerely appreciate her colleagues’ support.”
The Cantwell amendment would require PBMs operating in a health insurance exchange to provide basic aggregate information so that health plan sponsors can make educated decisions about which PBM, if any, offers the best value for the plan and patients.
In July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a similar amendment, authored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), to its health reform plan (H.R. 3200). The Congressional Budget Office indicated to House staff that the disclosure provision would not increase federal spending.
Consumer groups also back PBM reform and, in June, a top government auditor testified that there's a “good chance” taxpayers and participants in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program are “not getting a good deal because of the lack of transparency” by PBMs.