Rep. Chris Humphrey, Rep. Wayne Sasser: Restoring Main Street America begins with empowering locally owned pharmacies

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

RALEIGH — Many of us fondly remember the days when Main Street was bustling with a vibrant, localized economy. Small businesses flourished, creating jobs and driving growth that directly supported our communities. A quintessential feature of these towns was the presence of a local pharmacy, serving as the heart of Main Street. However, in recent times, the takeover of Big Government and Big Pharma has disrupted this landscape, leading to the closure of several cherished businesses and the relocation of jobs out-of-state.

As a legislator, I am dedicated to the prosperity of North Carolina. That’s why I’m proud to sponsor House Bill 246, an important piece of legislation that champions local pharmacies, stimulates small business growth, and improves healthcare access for our citizens. This legislation is key to reinvigorating Main Streets across our state, cementing our status as the best place to live, work, and run a business.

House Bill 246 puts an end to the unfair practices of pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) by targeting spread pricing, fees, and rebates which hurt locally-owned pharmacies. These measures will deliver transparency and fairness to the pharmaceutical industry, strengthening the foundation of local pharmacies and allowing them to continue serving as pillars of our communities.

In addition to addressing PBM practices, House Bill 246 establishes uniform standards for accreditation and streamlines the process by eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that disproportionately burden the locally-owned pharmacies. This provision ensures an environment conducive to entrepreneurial growth, innovation, and healthy competition — which would drive down the prices of prescription drugs for everyone. Our goal is to empower local pharmacies to thrive and provide exceptional care while upholding the highest standards of patient safety.

House Bill 246 also reaffirms and protects a patient’s right to choose their preferred pharmacy. We recognize the value of strong patient-pharmacy relationships and aim to preserve them by clarifying and safeguarding this right — empowering patients to make informed decisions about their healthcare and recognizing local pharmacies as trusted healthcare providers.

Last but not least, House Bill 246 ensures the accurate calculation and transparent communication of patients’ out-of-pocket expenses — mitigating confusion and preventing undue financial burdens on patients. This provision emphasizes our commitment to protecting patients’ rights and promoting financial transparency in the healthcare system.

House Bill 246 will help small businesses thrive, enhance healthcare access, and create an environment where local pharmacies flourish as cornerstones of our communities. By cutting back on Big Government mandates and ensuring accessible, quality healthcare for all North Carolinians, this legislation serves as a significant step toward a more competitive, patient-centric pharmaceutical industry.

Rep. Chris Humphrey (R — Lenoir, Jones, Greene) serves as chairman of the House Committee on Insurance. Rep. Wayne Sasser (R – Stanly, Montgomery) serves as chairman of the Health and the Appropriations committees and formerly served Rowan County voters. They are primary sponsors of HB 246, along with Reps. John Bell and Hugh Blackwell. HB 246 passed the House unanimously and now rests in the Senate for further debate and consideration