Inside This Issue - Opinion
Retail pharmacy takes message to lawmakers
March 31st, 2014
by Jeffrey Woldt
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores was at its best on RxImpact Day.
The annual grassroots lobbying effort, which earlier this month brought more than 400 retail pharmacy practitioners, executives and students to the nation’s capital to interact with members of Congress and other government officials, provided a clear demonstration of how NACDS and its members help shape health care policy.
In a series of meetings over two days, advocates made the case for community pharmacy’s ability to improve health care outcomes and lower costs in sessions that involved more than 80% of House and Senate offices. In addition to talking with members of Congress and staff members, RxImpact Day participants met with officials at federal agencies, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Impressive as those numbers are, the real power of RxImpact Day lies in having people involved in the profession tell their story directly to policy makers, helping them understand how decisions made in Washington can affect the delivery of health care and the well-being of people who are the patients of pharmacists and constituents of members of Congress. The information shared and bonds formed can have a lasting benefit.
During a chance encounter on the Senate subway in the Capitol complex, Bob Narveson, president and CEO of Plymouth, Minn.-based Thrifty White and current NACDS chairman (who was accompanied by Rite Aid CEO John Standley and NACDS CEO Steve Anderson), ran into Al Franken, the Democratic senator from that state. Without missing a beat, Franken started a discussion about medication therapy management and adherence, subjects that he and Narveson had spoken about at past RxImpact Days. Multiplied hundreds of times, such encounters make it much more likely that community pharmacy will win a favorable outcome on a broad range of issues, including enhancing patient access to pharmacy services, granting members of the profession provider status and the need for a transition period in the adoption of a new formula for compensating pharmacies under the Medicaid program.
Participants in RxImpact Day increased the odds that community pharmacy will succeed in securing a regulatory environment in which the profession can flourish. NACDS deserves credit for giving them the forum to do so.