Inside This Issue - News
RxImpact Day makes its mark on Capitol Hill
April 8th, 2013
WASHINGTON – For the fifth consecutive year, hundreds of chain drug executives, pharmacists and pharmacy students descended on Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers about the importance of community pharmacy to the future of the nation’s health care system.
The mass gathering, which saw a sea of white coats strolling through the halls of the House of Representatives and Senate office buildings surrounding the Capitol, was part of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ fifth annual RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill.
More than 300 people representing 41,000 community pharmacies across the United States met 400 of Congress’ 535 senators and representatives or members of their staffs during the daylong event.
Nearly 90% of the meetings were with lawmakers who serve on congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care issues.
During their discussions the pharmacy advocates focused on a variety of critical issues facing the industry, including the Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act of 2013 that was introduced in the Senate the day before and how pharmacy will have a positive impact on health care going forward.
They also encouraged lawmakers to visit a pharmacy in their district to see firsthand the role pharmacists play in people’s lives.
“This is the fifth year we have done this, and it has by far been the best in terms of productivity,” NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson said, adding that of particular note was lawmakers’ reaction to the MTM bill introduced by Sens. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) and Pat Roberts (R., Kan.). Scored a zero by the Congressional Budget Office (meaning it will not cost taxpayers a cent), the bill was warmly received on Capitol Hill, Anderson said.
“One congressman told us that it sounded great,” he noted. “He said they need to pass something bipartisan and this could be just the thing. Our timing could not have been better.”
The MTM proposal that was introduced in the Senate the day before the pharmacy advocates took to Capitol Hill seeks to expand access to MTM services for senior citizens enrolled in the Medicare program. A similar measure is pending in the House of Representatives.
Many of the pharmacists, chain drug executives and pharmacy students at this year’s RxImpact Day were veterans of the event, having seen many of the same lawmakers in previous years. All agreed that after five years of lobbying, veteran federal legislators are more familiar with the issues facing community pharmacy, while freshman lawmakers and those whom the pharmacy advocates were visiting for the first time were eager to learn what the industry can bring to health care.
“Many of the challenges we face are the same ones faced by the nation as a whole,” Thrifty White Pharmacy executive vice president of store operations Tim Erdle said between visits with lawmakers from Minnesota and North Dakota. “So they are very receptive to our message.”
Association executives noted, however, that their efforts to educate lawmakers do not end with this single day of visits.
“This is just a jump-start to introduce pharmacy to the new Congress,” said director of government affairs Heide Ecker, who has coordinated every RxImpact Day since the event’s inception in 2009. “Now the real work starts.”