RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill was one of the many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit this country hard early this month and, as of this writing, showed no signs of abating. Conducted by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, RxImpact Day would have brought together more than 400 pharmacy advocates in Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and members of the Trump administration.
First held 12 years ago, the annual event helped the industry raise its profile in the nation’s capital and earn a seat at the table whenever public policy deliberations turn to health care. Relationships formed between members of Congress and pharmacy executives one year provide a strong foundation for fruitful discussions the next, as well as ensuring that legislators are up to speed about issues that impact their constituents’ access to high-quality health care at affordable prices.
With many congressional offices suspending face-to-face meetings, NACDS had no choice but to call off RxImpact Day. The cancelation came at a pivotal moment for an industry struggling with reimbursement pressures — particularly direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees under Medicare Part D — even as it possesses vast untapped potential to help the country transform health care delivery.
The issues that NACDS, its members and allies intended to discuss during RxImpact Day — the urgent need for DIR reform, the broader reimbursement crunch, the need to reduce consumers’ out-of-pocket drug costs, patient privacy and the escalating number of pharmacy closures — are no less significant now than they were before the arrival of the novel strain of coronavirus. Retail pharmacy operators are now, of course, intensely focused on making sure their customers receive the help they need in coping with COVID-19. When the crisis passes, however, it is imperative that executives, frontline professionals and pharmacy students resume and intensify their advocacy efforts.
NACDS offers resources on its website to guide people who want to help convince legislators and regulators that a vibrant retail pharmacy sector is essential to protecting and promoting the health and well-being of all Americans. While nothing can duplicate the experience of a person-to-person meeting, other forms of communication — phone calls, emails, text messages, videos, even old-fashioned letters — can send a very powerful message. If the pharmacy community mobilizes, it can turn the challenge of missing RxImpact Day into an opportunity to move the needle by involving many more advocates than would have made the trip to Capitol Hill.