Hello PUTT Members and Friends,

If 2020 is remembered for anything positive, it will be for showing the nation how heavily our healthcare system relies on the teamwork between doctors, patients and pharmacies when crisis is at hand. It could also be remembered as one of the worst years for PBM middlemen - at least reputation wise - even though their ill-gotten profits continued to rise, DIR fees went through the roof and seemingly more independent pharmacy patients than ever were steered away from their home pharmacies.

But around PUTT we're fond of saying "one person's pharmacist is another's freedom fighter." As this long and difficult year begins to wane, we're taking our mission to the next level.

We're launching an RxRevolution. 

And we're fanning the flames of our RxRevolution with a new set of programs designed to inspire and empower our members and pharmacy advocate friends as we kick off 2021.

We hope you'll find the programs listed below useful, and an excellent supplement to our library of infographics, articles, podcasts and other educational materials. We also hope you'll share our work with others who could or should be PUTT members. (In fact, see the note at the end of this story for more about what it means to be a PUTT member.)

As always, thank you for your support of PUTT. We wish you the loveliest (and safest) of Thanksgiving holidays.

Monique Whitney
PUTT Executive Director

Special Topic: How, Against All Odds, Michigan Carved Pharmacy Out of Medicaid
Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 pm ET
Click Here to Register

PUTT Executive Director Monique Whitney joins Michigan Pharmacists Association Government Affairs Director Brian Sapita and PUTT Michigan chapter president and new PUTT Board member Nathan Mair for a behind-the-scenes discussion of Michigan's recent Medicaid carve-out. This call is a "Must Attend" for anyone a Medicaid pharmacy carve-out in their state!

Member-to-Member: What We Know About COVID Vaccine Distribution
Wednesday 12/2, 7:30p ET
Click Here to Register

The COVID vaccines currently come with more questions than answers. Jacksonville, FL-based PUTT member, Kevin Duane, has been doing the research and will talk with PUTT members about what he's learned so far. Topics include vaccine storage; distribution and what to think about in order to make the informed decisions for your pharmacy and patients.
Open to PUTT members only. 

Coming Soon: Re-Localizing Care for America's (and Your Local Economy's) Benefit
Open to PUTT Members Only

PUTT Board member Dawn Butterfield has assembled an all-star team of pharmacy owners. They're working to show local businesses how they can save money on their employees' healthcare and pharmacy costs, while also reinvesting healthcare expenditures back into the local economy. "Re-Localizing Care for America's Benefit" is a program for PUTT members who are serious about engineering a "free market" solution that puts the focus back on quality care at an affordable price.  For more information, contact us here

On the Topic of PUTT Membership ... 
As 2020 draws to a close, healthcare issues and questions that affect the business of independent pharmacy continue to emerge.  PUTT fights every day, not just for the rights of independent pharmacies and their patients, but to ensure our members have access to timely, important information and tools they can use to end PBM and other systemic abuses.

PUTT members aren't in it for the glory. PUTT members are a self-selected force of nature: speaking truth to power; sharing evidence; taking back our industry and empowering others in pharmacy to do the same.  See how your membership contributions are making a difference in pharmacy every day.

Join the RxRevolution. Be a part of the PUTT pack.
Click Here to Join Today!
  The Arkansas Department of Insurance (DOI) recently released an independently commissioned examination of PBMs.

The report findings confirm what independent pharmacists have said for years - PBMs are bad for small business pharmacies and their patients.

Focused on the PBMs operating inside Arkansas's Medicaid managed care programs and state-funded Arkansas Works commercial plans -- Optum Rx, CVS/Caremark, and Express Scripts --  the report found PBMs routinely reimbursed national chain pharmacies more than regional chain and independent pharmacies for the same drug.

Not surprisingly, the report uncovered predatory PBM practices well known to pharmacists including 85 percent of reported plans controlled by a single PBM; and multiple reports from pharmacies of PBM threats for participating in the study, going so far as to lock pharmacies' access to information through the PBM portal.

"I would like to commend the Arkansas Insurance Commissioner and his staff for their hard work in compiling Arkansas's first ever analysis of PBMs and shining light on the truth," said John Vinson, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, "A fair, even playing field for drug pricing can only be accomplished through transparency, objectivity, and accountability."  

To access the report Executive Summary & findings click here.

For a copy of the full report including appendixes, visit the PUTT Member Library on our website at TruthRx.org/ReportCentral

Minnesota independent pharmacies refuse to take small business abuse of any kind lying down. This October we introduced you to the new MNindys group that PUTT Board Member Deb Keaveny had begun. Since last month's newsletter they've not only been featured in a Star Tribune article that was picked up by APhA magazine, and made front page news of Minnesota's Herald-Journal (see below article link), they've also become a crime fighting force!

Through conversation via text messages and their Google group email string, multiple pharmacies noticed patterns of fraudulent prescriptions. They were able to determine the compromised DEA numbers and notified local authorities in their respective areas. Sheriffs' offices coordinated with the pharmacies to have local deputies covertly present in each store when the "family member of the patient" came to pick up the prescription in question, and after the purchase was made were able to arrest the perpetrators on the spot. To date, 2 prescription drug fraud rings have been taken down thanks to their efforts.

PUTT applauds the heroism of the MNindys for not just reporting the crimes, but taking an active part in the resolution. It takes a determined person to stand up and fight in the face of wrongdoing; it takes an even braver one to do it while fighting for the life of your business.

Read about PUTT Board member Deborah Keaveny's battle to save Minnesota's independent pharmacies here.



Surprise Trump rule will require insurers to reveal what they actually pay for prescription drugs
November 20, 2020 Chicago Tribune

Health insurance companies will have to give their customers estimated out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and disclose to the public the negotiated prices they pay for drugs, under an unexpected new Trump administration rule.

The administration said those requirements, part of a broader rule issued Oct. 29 forcing health plans to disclose costs and payments for most health care services, will promote competition and empower consumers to make better medical decisions.

The drug price provisions, which would not begin until 2022 ... were not included in the original proposed rule issued in 2019.  Continue Reading

Ohio Medicaid requesting bids for pharmacy administrator to help clean up the PBM mess
November 11, 2020  The Columbus Dispatch

The Ohio Department of Medicaid on Thursday started the process of hiring a private administrator to oversee its $3 billion pharmacy benefit program.

Medicaid created the new post as part of a broader overhaul of its managed care program. In addition to rebidding contracts with private managed care organizations that oversee the program, the state agency is also replacing five pharmacy benefit managers hired by those private organizations to process claims with one company hired by the state and monitored by the administrator.

The administer will operate independently from the pharmacy benefit manager, providing oversight and ensuring pharmacists are paid accurately for the prescriptions they fill.  Continue Reading

Pharmacy Groups Welcome Pharmacists Elected to US Congress
November 10, 2020  Drug Topics

Pharmacy groups welcomed incoming members of Congress - including 3 who are pharmacists - after the United States election. They also stressed pharmacy-centered issues for Congress to focus on when they reconvene in January.

"We're excited Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) is being joined in Congress by another pharmacist, Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee, and pharmacy owner Jerry Carl (R-AL), both of whom have an in-depth understanding of issues important to independent community pharmacy owners," said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, in a statement provided to Drug Topics®.
Continue Reading

Argument analysis: ACA seems likely to survive, but on what ground?
November 10, 2020 SCOTUS Blog

After roughly two hours of oral argument in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, it appeared likely that the Affordable Care Act will survive yet another effort in the courts to dismantle it. Although there may be five votes to strike down the ACA's individual mandate - the provision in the law that directs virtually all Americans to buy health insurance - a majority of the court in California v. Texas seemed to agree with the ACA's defenders that even if the mandate is unconstitutional, the rest of the ACA can survive. That determination would effectively leave in place the status quo, because Congress in 2017 eliminated the penalty for failing to obtain insurance, and the ACA has continued to operate without any enforceable individual mandate.

It's not even clear if the court will get that far. Any ruling on the constitutionality of the mandate - or the rest of the law - will hinge on whether at least five justices believe that the challengers in the case have a legal right to sue.  Continue Reading

PUTT Member Jen Shannon, owner of Lily's Pharmacy in Johns Creek, Georgia, is no stranger to speaking out against PBM abuse of patients & pharmacies. She's testified at state legislative hearings, sits on the GPhA Board of Directors, and is a member of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy National Advisory Board. Now she's speaking out against PBM patient steering and overcharging -- which is in direct violation of the 2019 Georgia state law banning the practices -- on WSB-TV 2 News Atlanta.
Click Here to Watch the Investigative Report

PUTT Board Member and co-owner of Dale's Southlake Pharmacy in Decatur, and Colee Corner Drugs in Forsyth, Illinois isn't just another vocal advocate for local pharmacies and their patients; she also hosts a weekly radio show with her father, pharmacist Dale Colee. The show, Pharmacy Facts with Friends airs on Tuesday evenings on the local public radio channel, Decatur Now. This past week featured athletic trainer Matt Munjoy, who has partnered with local pharmacies and healthcare providers to spearhead a program that provides enhanced physicals and healthy lifestyle counseling for at-risk high school athletes; and IL Senator Andy Manar, who was instrumental in ensuring that the state's second round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG) are easily accessible to small businesses in Illinois' rural and underserved regions.
To listen to the show click here
This month we talk with a panel of PUTT members who are independent pharmacy owners across the U.S.  Listen in to our no holds barred industry conversation that touches on everything from the effects of COVID, to politics, Wall Street, and even pharmacy school practices.

Thanksgiving feasts take time to prepare - so we wanted to give you some cooking song suggestions that are guaranteed to make even your grumpiest relatives' eyes roll!

Pop Music Hits:
Because I'm all about that baste, 'bout that baste, no trouble!

Country Music Crossover:
Let's give 'em pumpkin to talk about, a little whipped cream to figure out

Teen Pop Smashes:
Hey! I just met you, and this is gravy, but here's my stuffing, so carve me maybe!

80's Rap:
I like big Bundts and I cannot lie!

Golden Oldies Classics:
Because I only have pies, for you...

However you choose to celebrate just remember, when we're thankful for the friends and family we have around us, it truly doesn't get "butter" than this! 

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at PUTT!

Does Your Pharmacy's Loyalty Program Place Your Pharmacy at Risk? 
November 2020 
The Pharmacy Insider

The Hill's 12:30 Report: What to know about the Pfizer vaccine announcement
November 10, 2020
The Hill

Let My Doctors Decide Announces Expanded Patient-Centered Principles and Issues Call to Action to Drive Access and Affordability
November 6, 2020
The Argus-Press

Independent Pharmacies Learn to Live With (and Without) Preferred Networks for 2021
November 3, 2020
Drug Channels

Pharmacy Group Warns Over Anti-Competitive Partnership
November 2, 2020
CT Examiner