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Congress Voted on Discount Card on July 24, 2002!

Please stay involved... it all matters!

Congress Voted on Discount Card on July 24, 2002!
Please stay involved... it all matters!

The national discount drug card was defeated with 51 senators voting in favor of a discount drug card. We were lucky that the Senate requires 60 votes to adopt an amendment. Ohio senators Voinovich and DeWine joined all but one of their Republican colleagues in voting for this piece of legislation. We will be scheduling meetings with them, and with all the house members to discuss the impact legislation of this type has on our profession. At least we won. THANKS FOR ALL THE CALLS our members with email made. (Time was too short to reach membership via regular mail.) I know your contact made an impact on their thought patterns, and they realize that pharmacists aren’t just going to sit back and take it. OPA members who did not receive our email alerts regarding this important legislation, please contact us at to give us your correct email address.

The following information from S. Lawrence Kocot,
Senior Vice President and General Counsel for NACDS gives a more detailed account of yesterday’s vote:

The Hagel Medicare Rx Discount Amendment, which would have established a Medicare Endorsed Prescription Drug Discount Card program, failed to garner the necessary 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles and was defeated with 51 Senators voting for the Hagel amendment and 48 against. While this is a substantial victory for the Pharmacy Benefits All Coalition and the entire pharmacy community, the vote demonstrates that we have a substantial amount of work to do to educate Congress about the flaws of PBMs and discount cards. To learn how your Senators voted click here Please take note of how your Senators voted and make sure you let your friends, neighbors and patients know how they voted and how this translates to their view of a real pharmacy benefit and pharmacy care. We must begin to hold our elected representatives responsible for their votes on our destiny... otherwise, our future is in grave jeopardy.

Where do we go from here... it depends. A compromise is allegedly in the works on a comprehensive Medicare prescription drug program that will garner 60 votes. While many are not confident that this will happen soon, others are not ruling it out. We will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, the debate continues. The amendment offered by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) that is currently on the floor of the Senate should be supported to give states some relief in dealing with the tremendous Medicaid shortfalls states are facing. Also, Senator Torricelli (D-NJ) may have the opportunity to offer his PBM transparency amendment tomorrow. Moreover, we must not forget that the underlying Generics bill (S. 812), which will make it easier for generic drugs to come to market, must still come to a vote by the full Senate.

Please stay involved... it all matters!

We have made substantial progress over the past several weeks, but all we have achieved will be forgotten unless we remain visible and involved. Already, the Rx Benefits Coalition, the PBM front group, is putting pressure on Senator Torricelli to back off his amendment. Please continue to let Senators know how you feel about this PBM amendment and all of our outstanding issues that will be voted in the next couple of days. Please call 1-800-211-0916 or write ) your Senators now, and have your friends, family, and patients do the same with the following messages:
* tell them that you appreciate their support if they voted AGAINST the point of order on the Hagel amendment;
* tell them that you are very concerned for their support for the Hagel amendment if they voted FOR the point of order;
* regardless of how they voted on Hagel, tell them that they should support

(a)the Torricelli PBM transparency amendment;
(b) the Rockefeller Medicaid amendment; and,
(c)the underlying Generics Access bill (S.812).

…Thank you for continuing on this arduous legislative journey with us, and for all the faxes and phone calls you made. We are only as effective in Washington as you are in communicating our views from back home.

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