Arlington, VA – Today, FMI – The Food Industry Association applauded the U.S. Senate Finance Committee’s bipartisan passage of the Modernizing and Ensuring PBM Accountability (MEPA) Act that would address several opaque and anticompetitive business practices used by certain pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) in the Medicare and Medicaid markets, which are driving local pharmacies out of business. 

The legislation, which builds on the framework released by the committee in the spring, includes two of FMI’s top pharmacy policy priorities: long-sought, comprehensive reform measures addressing the egregious proliferation of pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees in the Medicare program as well as the practice of spread pricing in Medicaid. For far too long, the use of DIR fees and spread pricing have fueled PBM profits while threatening the viability of supermarket pharmacies and undermining the Medicare and Medicaid programs. FMI Chief Public Policy Officer Jennifer Hatcher offered the following statement. 

“FMI members operate approximately 12,000 supermarket pharmacies in communities across the country, providing patients and customers with vital medications and comprehensive pharmacy services. Yet, due to the anticompetitive practices of the largest, vertically integrated PBM-insurers, including the use of retroactive DIR fees and spread pricing, many supermarket pharmacies struggle to remain in business – particularly in underserved, low- income, rural and urban neighborhoods. 

“We greatly appreciate the Senate Finance Committee for approving the MEPA Act in bipartisan fashion today. This important legislation will work to achieve lower costs for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and preserve their access to the pharmacy of their choice for prescription medicines and other clinical services, which is often their supermarket pharmacy.   

“FMI thanks Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) for their leadership in addressing some of the most egregious PBM abuses against retail pharmacies. We strongly urge passage by the full Senate to provide increased PBM oversight and transparency, ensuring supermarket pharmacies are able to continue serving their customers in communities across the country.”