WASHINGTON — More than 350 pharmacy advocates from 44 states met with members of Congress during the seventh annual National Association of Chain Drug Stores RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill late last month.
Advocates had more than 450 meetings with legislators, including 95% of the members who serve on congressional committees with jurisdiction on health care issues.
Prior to the meetings, NACDS presented its Congressional Leadership Award to House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health vice chairman Brett Guthrie (R., Ky.). The association recognized Guthrie for his sponsorship of legislation — in this Congress (H.R. 592) and the last one (H.R. 4190) — enabling Medicare beneficiaries to access pharmacist-provided patient care services.
Guthrie said that appropriate compensation for pharmacy services is “a bipartisan issue.” He also spoke of his personal appreciation for pharmacy, relating that he knows a rural Kentucky pharmacist who is the only accessible health care professional for nearby residents. Another pharmacist may have saved Guthrie’s son’s life by catching a flaw in a prescription, the congressman added.
Also praising community pharmacy were Sen. John Tester (D., Mont.) and Rep. Buddy Carter (R., Ga.), who submitted comments backing the industry to the Congressional Record.
“Living up to its name, NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill is highly impactful,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “Decisions on policies made in Washington influence patient care in pharmacies every day across the nation.”
Anderson said that the event was an important opportunity for pharmacy advocates “to engage directly with lawmakers on pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies, and to further reinforce the recognition by lawmakers of the evolving role of pharmacy in patient care.”
Among those taking advantage of the opportunity was incoming NACDS chairman Randy Edeker. The chairman, president and CEO of West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Inc. met with House minority whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.).
“Pharmacists are uniquely positioned in their expanded roles in the health care delivery system to help meet the health care needs of all Americans,” added Anderson. “Pharmacy has an important part to play — working collaboratively with other health care professionals and providers — in providing patient care for those in need.”
John Standley, chairman of NACDS and chairman and CEO of Rite Aid Corp., told participants, “Make no mistake: By being here in Washington, D.C., you’re helping us make a powerful statement about the value of pharmacy.”
Standley said he couldn’t wait to see “all of those white pharmacists’ coats flooding the halls of Congress and telling the story of how community pharmacy can help our nation.”
He noted that this year’s event included representatives of more states, more universities and more companies than any of the prior six RxImpact Day gatherings.