Smart-Fill at the Capitol

April 11, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Pharmacists from across the nation will converge in Washington D.C. on April 11 and 12 for the annual NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Summit. It’s a great opportunity to be an advocate for both independent pharmacy and for your patients.

We know the challenges of a prescription delivery market that is so heavily controlled by the PBMs. They determine which pharmacies are included in prescription benefit plans, how much they will be paid, and which drugs will be included in formularies. For independent pharmacies, PBMs are a particular threat: often, they try to persuade insurers to push patients to mail-order pharmacies or to pharmacies owned by the PBM itself—which would seem to be a clear (and actionable) conflict of interest in any other business. Limited networks, typically favoring chains, put patients in rural areas at a disadvantage, sometimes forcing them to drive many miles to access an in-network pharmacy.

Last week, we noted that we were working in Minnesota on legislation to “remove the gag” in order to overcome contractual provisions that typically prevent pharmacists from providing patients better price transparency. This week, Smart-Fill and several of our members will be focused on another key area of transparency as set forth in S. 413/H.R. 1038. The bills—originally sponsored by Representatives Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Peter Welch (D-VT) in the House and by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT) in the Senate—now enjoy wide bipartisan support. They would prohibit PBMs from retroactively reducing payments to pharmacies for claims under Medicare Part D plans, thereby removing some of the uncertainty pharmacies face in running their businesses.

Can’t make the summit? There are still some actions you can take. Invite your local congressional representatives to visit your store to learn about how the existing regime actually works. Write to them in support of the bill and follow what’s happening in your own state. Talk to the media about the role of the pharmacist in the community and how PBM practices impact patient lives. We can help you with both of those efforts.

If you need some help getting started, download these talking points we’ve put together or reach out to Tony Post at or 507-481-0546. As we approach another election (yes, already), the time is right to get involved—and we’d like to help.



Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Before she came to Smart-Fill, Pamela developed marketing strategy and content for a range of technology start-ups and large-cap enterprises. Outside the office, she's into gardening, renaissance history, the Big Ten, and exploring the great outdoors. 

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