Independent Grocers Welcome Proposed Pharmacy DIR Rule

January 7, 2022

Washington, D.C. – The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, applauds the proposed rule by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to require Part D plans to apply all price concessions they receive, including direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees, at the point of sale.

DIR fees force America’s seniors to pay more out of pocket for their prescriptions and threaten the viability of independent grocery pharmacies. These fees, which are assessed on pharmacies by drug middlemen – pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) – are routinely clawed back weeks and months after a patient pays for his or her prescription. With no way to budget for these fees, many independent grocers have been left with little recourse but to close their pharmacy operations.

“NGA members operate more than 3,000 pharmacies within their stores. Independent grocers have been at the heart of their communities throughout the pandemic, providing food, medications, and other services including COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. “The proposal by CMS will help keep these essential businesses open and helping the folks who need it most.”

“Pharmacy price concessions have been out of control for years. The government’s own data shows that DIR fees grew by 91,500% from 2010 to 2019,” noted Robert Yeakel, NGA senior director of government relations. “NGA looks forward to working with the Biden administration, our champions in Congress, and other partners to make sure that the final rule protects both seniors and pharmacies from onerous PBM practices.”