March 10, 2023

Meet our Federal Advisory Panel

American Pharmacies is proud to announce the members of our multi-state Federal Advocacy Panel, which will provide critical professional insight and guidance on federal advocacy issues affecting independent pharmacy. The panel represents a strong cross-section of American Pharmacies members who all are significantly engaged in advocacy efforts in their home states.

American Pharmacies Board Chairman Joe Ochoa of Edinburg, Texas, (Right) presides over the panel, which includes independent pharmacy owners from eight states. A former mayor of Edinburg, Ochoa knows politics from the ground up — from his hometown all the way to Washington, D.C. He enjoys strong personal relationships with his state legislators, as well as U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of TX, who once signed on as co-sponsor of two pro-pharmacy bills after a visit with Ochoa in his Washington office.

Other members of the advisory panel include:

  • Grant Brown, owner of several pharmacies in Michigan, is an advisory member of the American Pharmacies Board of Directors and has a long history of legislative engagement in Michigan with state and federal legislators.
  • Rob Bullington of Sevierville, TN, owns three pharmacies in Tennessee and has been very active in state advocacy on his own and as a legislative leader at the Tennessee Pharmacy Association.
  • Teresa Dickinson, owner of Melrose Pharmacy in Phoenix, AZ, is a founding member of the Arizona Independent Pharmacy Coalition, which passed the state's first PBM bill in 2022. She is a former Board member for Pharmacists United for Truth & Transparency (PUTT).
  • Jeffrey Gross, owner of the Mickey Fine Pharmacy & Grill in Beverly Hills, is a longtime California advocacy leader who follows federal issues closely.
  • John Hickman, owner of Dyer Drugstore in McKinney, TX, chairs the Texas Advocacy Advisory Panel and has twice been honored with APRx's Advocacy Leadership Award for his efforts at the Texas Legislature.
  • Steve Hoffart, owner of Magnolia Pharmacy in Magnolia, TX, is highly visible in state and national advocacy circles. He serves on the NCPA Committee on State Legislation and Regulation, and has received our Advocacy Leadership Award three times. He has made several trips to Washington to meet with members of Congress.
  • Deb Keaveny, owner of Keaveny Drug in Winsted, MN, is Minnesota's leading independent pharmacy advocate. Keaveny serves as president of the PUTT Board of Directors and is the founder and leader of the MINDIES (Minnesota Independent Pharmacies) advocacy group in that state.
  • Micah Lansford, owner of Roden-Smith Pharmacy in Clovis, NM, serves on the board of the New Mexico Pharmacy Business Council, a successful advocacy group created and funded in New Mexico by American Pharmacies.
  • Jason Turner of Moundsville, WV, owns two pharmacies in that state. He is a leading proponent of med synch and is extremely knowledgeable about PBM DIR assessments.

"This is an outstanding group of pharmacy owners who are very committed to protecting their patients and their business model," said Michael Wright, VP of Government Affairs for American Pharmacies. "The experience and persistence they have gained at the state level will be extremely valuable in supporting our federal efforts."

House Oversight Panel

To Investigate PBMs’

Role in Driving Up

Health Care Costs

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-KY) has launched an investigation into PBM tactics that are harming patient care and increasing patient costs. Comer has asked senior officials at the Office of Personnel Management, CMS and the Defense Health Agency for documents and communications that might illustrate the extent that PBMs’ tactics impact healthcare programs administered by the federal government.

In addition, he sent letters to CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx — which control 80% of the PBM marketplace — asking them to provide “documents, communications and information” on their tactics. This includes rebates or fees paid to them and incentives encouraging patients to use pharmacies owned by them.

The letters claim that PBMs use “self-benefiting practices,” including “fail first” policies that require patients to first fail on the PBM’s drug before they start using the drug first prescribed to them. Another practice the letters call out is prior authorization, which delays patient care, Comer said.

"Greater transparency in the PBM industry is vital to determine the impact that their tactics are having on patients, the pharmaceutical market, and healthcare programs administered by the federal government," Comer wrote. "The House Oversight and Accountability Committee is shining a light on this issue in the healthcare system and will continue to examine solutions to make prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans."

Initial findings in Committee Republicans’ December 2021 report showed that large PBM consolidation has negatively impacted patient health, increased costs for consumers, forced manufacturers to raise their prices, and created conflicts of interest that distort the market and limit high-quality care for patients.

Below are the letters that Comer sent to the three PBMs:

Meanwhile, the FTC continues its sweeping investigation of PBMs that it launched last year to scrutinize fees, clawbacks, reimbursement terms with pharmacies, patient steering and the impact of rebates on generic/biosimilar competition and patient costs.

Roberti Global, our Washington lobby firm, continues to meet with key leaders in the House and Senate to gauge support for PBM reform and encourage cooperative efforts between supporters. Roberti has found that most, if not all, of the offices they visit acknowledge a need to at least investigate PBMs and require greater transparency and accountability, if not curb what many describe as abusive business practices.

Steven Irizarri, our chief liaison at Roberti, said the firm's interactions with members of Congress are identifying an ongoing need for independent pharmacists to educate members and their staffs on PBM issues, especially on how those issues affect patients and pharmacists' ability to serve them.

American Pharmacies strongly encourages all members to reach out to their U.S. representative and senators to start a dialog on the pressing need for PBM reform. Your involvement and your experiences and perspectives on these issues are critical.

Want to Join Our Federal Team?

Committed constituents are a powerful resource in our fight for patient rights and fair reimbursement -- no one has more influence with elected leaders. Join our Federal Grassroots Network and support our efforts in Washington. Your relationships and efforts can make a difference!

Download Our Federal Grassroots Sign-up Form