From the desk of James Gelfand, JD, President, ERIC (ERISA Industry Committee), GTMRx Advocacy Partner
October 14, 2022
After a short September of work in Congress, House and Senate members are once again back at home, campaigning in advance of the November election. They’ll be gone throughout October, although congressional staff will remain here in Washington, DC most of the time. They’re working to prepare for November and December, wherein Congress will address some must-pass legislation and potentially work to clear the decks before the new Congress convenes in January 2023.
ERIC and GTMRx are still working hard behind the scenes to advance legislation to improve care for patients. We continue to engage more stakeholders, get input from more experts, and fine-tune policy proposals to fix problems in the prescription drug supply chain. At the same time, we are building bridges in Congress, cultivating allies and working to alleviate the concerns of potential opponents. And progress is happening.
Recent strategy sessions with a bipartisan group of congressional offices are bearing fruit, and we anticipate that when Congress comes back (in between the election and Thanksgiving), our top allies in Congress may be prepared to introduce the first of two pieces of legislation (one in the House, and another in the Senate) that enacts the policy changes we are proposing. This will be a significant step forward, for several reasons:
First, with an introduced piece of legislation, GTMRx and our strong network of allies and supporters will have something to rally around and support. There are 535 members of the House and Senate, and we need to convince as many of them as possible that the time is now to improve the drug supply chain. One of the best ways to do this is to educate their offices about the policy and urge them to sign on as supporters (“cosponsors”) of the legislation. This serves to increase the chances of passage of our policies into law by showing that there is strong support for the bill, and that it has momentum. And generally, once a member of Congress signs on to support legislation, that support is for keeps – it usually maintains into a new Congress and translates to “yes” votes in Committee and for passage on the House or Senate floor.
Second, as I mentioned, Congress is working to create legislation to “clear the decks” for policy, which will ride primarily on a bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown on December 16. The best candidates for policies to include in that omnibus legislation will be bipartisan bills that have broad support and have been vetted, and even better, bills that might bring in revenue and/or reduce the federal deficit. We anticipate that our legislation will hit all of those marks. So, getting it introduced will give it time to demonstrate that it has the support needed and has been through a thorough vetting process. And even if our policies are not included in that omnibus bill, the exercise itself will serve as a kind of vetting, giving us huge momentum when we come back in January.
Third, the legislation GTMRx is working on will be the first of its kind – a bill to reform the drug supply chain with the input and support of various stakeholders. In the past, entrenched interests have greatly benefitted from a divided opposition, allowing them to swat away a series of smaller bills, rather than face a united front. This will be a game-changer, putting actual policy change far more in reach than ever before in this issue space.
So, keep an eye out for new legislation in this space. Right now, we are completing negotiations with various parties – can we secure the support of some or all of the pharmaceutical industry? What about the half-dozen groups representing pharmacists? Or other medical providers? What about patient advocacy and consumer groups? We go into this with eyes wide open, knowing that it is unlikely we will be able to make everyone happy and earn everyone’s support. But the stronger our coalition, the better chance we have to get across the finish line. And neither ERIC nor GTMRx are here just to “raise awareness” and go home. This is a full-court press on advocacy, and we have every intention of changing the laws of the United States to fix the system for patients, providers, employers and others.
We will work to keep you informed as your participation in the next stages of this project will be crucial. Once we have a piece of legislation to support, we will need your help in reaching out to Congress, spreading the word on social (and old school!) media, cultivating more stakeholder allies and bringing this to a successful conclusion.
Want to learn more?
GTMRx is conducting general briefings for our Board companies, Executive Members and Strategic Partners on Wednesday mornings at 9:00 am ET. If you are interested in scheduling a time to learn more about proposed legislation or other work GTMRx is doing, contact Josh King at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited, and this is available only to those companies as outlined above.