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Seat at the table: NCPA talks DIR fees, COVID role with Sec. Becerra

Seat at the table: NCPA talks DIR fees, COVID role with Sec. Becerra

Doug HoeyALEXANDRIA, Va. – B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, came away from a recent roundtable discussion with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra feeling “positive.” 

“It’s my opinion that the secretary will be receptive to expanding (access) to health care and utilizing pharmacies to do that,” he said. 

Hoey spoke with HME News recently about the meeting and where he thinks Becerra may stand on certain issues like pharmacy DIR fees. 

HME News: How was it having a seat at the table with Sec. Becerra? 

Douglas Hoey: The conversation was very positive and very comfortable – he was easy to talk to. He mentioned he’s very much a proponent of preventive care and that’s an area where we shine. He seemed receptive to the issues we brought up.  

HME: One issue that NCPA has been vocal about is pharmacy DIR fees. Does he see any relief? 

Hoey: We were pretty explicit with him on how DIR impacts pharmacists trying to maintain access for seniors and, because of the impact on seniors, how it costs the government more money. We asked for immediate relief. He said he’d heard that and heard me, and he implied there was something in the works. We are unclear on the precise next steps for HHS to take action. We continue to lobby both Congress and the agencies asking for relief.  

HME: Did you feel the secretary understands the role independent pharmacies play in fighting COVID-19? 

Hoey: We asked the secretary to retain the authorization for independent pharmacies to order and administer both the COVID-19 test and the vaccine. According to the CDC, independent pharmacies have administered almost 100 million doses of COVID vaccines out of more than 300 million total. Without pharmacists involved, the country would have been months behind where we are and hundreds of thousands more people would have died, but we’ve been able to save lives. To us, it’s a no brainer. He seemed to agree, but he also referenced the conflict between the authority he has vs. Congress. Who has the authority to grant that?


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