NACDS RxImpact Day raises industry’s profile

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WASHINGTON — At the recent RxImpact day, Megan Marchal, pharmacy manager at a Walgreen Co. store in Canal Winchester, Ohio, opened her talks with Jessica McNiece, a legislative assistant to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), by informing her of the need for legislation that would maintain Medicare Part D beneficiaries’ access to critical vaccines.

In that same session, Eric Graff, owner of Ritzman Pharmacies, emphasized the concern he shares with other retailers for relief from needless regulations for pharmacies that provide durable medical equipment.

And in a meeting with Stephanie Milburn, deputy chief of staff for Rep. John Boehner (R., Ohio), Debbie Lange, a pharmacy specialist at Target Corp., discussed the ways in which pharmacists who provide medication therapy management (MTM) could provide even greater benefits and savings for Medicare patients if Congress were to pass the Medication Therapy Benefits Act (H.R. 3108), advanced by Rep. Mike Ross (D., Ark.).

The foregoing are examples of topics retailers, pharmacy students, faculty, state pharmacy association leaders and others raised in meetings with members of the Senate and House and their assistants during the initiative last month on Capitol Hill.

The second annual event, sponsored by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, was one in which retail organizations large and small brought a unified message to those legislators: Community pharmacy helps improve lives while reducing health care costs.
But the theme of RxImpact Day — which this year boasted nearly a 70% increase in attendance over the 2009 initiative — was that if pharmacy is to continue to deliver such benefits, it needs support from federal policy makers through legislation that pharmacy advocates want to see passed and by way of regulations they hope are rescinded.

Collectively, those participants, many of whom sent follow-up letters to legislators, met in the offices of 67 senators and 153 members of the House.

“I hope you have noticed that we at NACDS are obsessed with achieving policy victories that are pro-pharmacy and pro-patient,” NACDS president and chief executive Steve Anderson said in what amounted to a rallying cry before attendees descended on the halls of Congress. “Make no mistake, that is why we are here, and that is why it is so important that you are here.”

Added senior vice president of government affairs Carol Kelly: “Whatever legislation Congress moves this year, we will continue to press for the legislation needed so that you can serve your patients.”

An issue of concern at many of the congressional office meetings was the need for legislative action to address the effects of Medicaid AMP (average manufacturer price) cuts. In particular, RxImpact participants stressed that without a legislative remedy, AMP under the current system would drastically cut reimbursements below pharmacy costs, resulting in tens of thousands of store closings and hundreds of thousands of job losses.

MTM’s importance to senior citizens was addressed not only by Target’s Lange but by representatives of a large number of other retailers. They noted that H.R. 3108 expands eligibility criteria so that access is ensured for beneficiaries with chronic diseases that account for significant Medicare spending.

Time was also reserved during RxImpact Day to honor those who have advanced the cause of retail pharmacy. Rep. Marion Berry (D., Ark.), Congress’ only licensed pharmacist, received the NACDS Congressional Leadership Award. Andrew Helm and Brent Leithauser, students at Washington State University and the University of Washington, respectively, received the NACDS Pharmacy Student Advocacy Award.


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