Pharmacy antitrust exemption would cost FEHBP big bucks

On November 7, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee favorably reported by voice vote HR 971, the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act which would create an antitrust law exemption that would allow independent pharmacies to create a “union” similar to employees for the purpose of negotiating with health plans (including FEHB plans and Medicare Part C and D plans) and prescription benefit managers. The PBM trade association, PCMA, issued a press release today about a Congressional Budget Office report on HR 971. According to the PCMA,

“CBO found that HR 971 would increase federal costs by $727 million over ten years and that increased drug costs to private health plans, employers, and consumers would result in ‘reductions in the scope or generosity of health insurance benefits, such as increased deductibles or higher copayments.’ CBO’s analysis also contends that cost increases resulting from the legislation would be passed along to workers, reducing both their taxable compensation and other fringe benefits.’