Academy members and staff climbed the steps of Capitol Hill last month to advocate for various issues of importance to managed care pharmacy during AMCP’s annual Legislative Days event.
Twenty members from the AMCP Board of Directors, Legislative Committee and Legislative & Regulatory Action Committee engaged in more than 100 meetings, Sept. 11-13, with key staff from both the House and Senate.
Mark Hopman, Mitzi Wasik and Michael Williams
"The Academy is highly engaged on Capitol Hill,” said AMCP Chief Executive Officer Edith A. Rosato, RPh, IOM. “Congressional leaders overseeing health care policy know us, and look to us for the managed care perspective on a wide range of pharmacy and pharmaceutical-related issues. This fall’s event was another opportunity to make our positions known.”
AMCP presented three priority issues during the meetings:
- Adequate funding of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ);
- AMCP’s Medicare Part D anti-fraud legislation; and
- Opposition to pending legislation that would place new restrictions on Medicare Part D medication therapy management programs.
Other issues for discussion included, audits, continued funding of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, coverage parity for chemotherapy agents and specialty drugs, generic exclusion agreements, and PBM transparency (visit www.amcp.org/FederalandStateLegislativeandRegulatoryIssues/).
The Legislative Days event started in earnest on Sept. 12 with a legislative update from two prominent Congressional health care aides. Presentations were made by Matt Kazan, Professional Staff/Medicare Part D to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and Brian Sutter, Professional Staff/Medicare Part D to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). Following this, the AMCP teams headed to the Hill for their meetings.
“It was a busy two days, and we met with staff from many legislative offices,” said AMCP President Doug Burgoyne. “We found that our concepts are generally understood and well accepted on the Hill. The staff we met with were supportive and agreed with most of our positions.”
Burgoyne also acknowledged the challenge that AMCP and other stakeholders face in the current political environment. “Lawmakers are hypersensitive about anything that raises spending at this time,” he noted.
Still, AMCP made the case that adequate funding of FDA and AHRQ is a crucial investment that shouldn’t be compromised.
Increased FDA funding will lead to a more efficient drug approval process, helping consumers, employers and taxpayers save money, according to the Academy.
The same holds true for AHRQ. “While we recognize and understand the need to control federal spending, we believe that terminating AHRQ would be a decision that will save money in the short-term, but would sacrifice quality and savings, and could have enormous detrimental effects on spending in the long-term,” the Academy states.
Incoming AMCP President Kim Caldwell added that these agencies provide the evidence that allows health care stakeholders to make “better choices and control spending.”
AMCP Past President Dave Clark said the overall Legislative Days experience was “very positive,” and that he was pleased to find that Congressional staff knew of AMCP and were receptive to the Academy’s messages.
Collin Conway and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
The biggest challenge, Clark noted, is that Congress is grappling with significant financial issues, including the so-called “fiscal cliff” of budget cuts and tax increases set to take effect early next year.
“Health care is not at the forefront of the agenda,” he noted. But it’s still necessary for the Academy to get in front of Congress on a regular basis. “It’s important for AMCP to have routine contact, even if our issues are not burning at the moment,” Clark said.
The Legislative Days event helps fulfill a key AMCP strategic priority: “Being the credible and authoritative voice for managed care pharmacy.” AMCP aims to develop a better understanding of managed care pharmacy among multiple stakeholders as a way to positively influence the acceptance and increased use of managed care pharmacy principles, noted Lauren Fuller, AMCP Vice President of Government Affairs.
“AMCP is fortunate to have a highly engaged and informed membership to help achieve this strategic priority,” said Fuller. “I would like to thank all of the members who volunteered their time to make this Legislative Days a success.”
To view AMCP’s perspective on:
- Funding for the FDA and AHRQ, click here:
- Medicare Part D MTM legislation, click here.
- AMCP’s Medicare Part D anti-fraud bill, click here.