They say that when it comes to politics in Washinton D.C., if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. While this old adage may draw some laughs, it illustrates just how important it is to be politically active, especially when it comes to your healthcare. With this in mind, Tim and I recently traveled to the National Community Pharmacy Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. to ensure that when it comes to your rights as a pharmacy patient, your interests are at the table.
Overall it was a great trip and truly opened my eyes to the importance of educating our legislators and government officials about the important role that community pharmacy plays in the lives of our patients each and every day. As arguably the most accessible healthcare professionals (just stop in anytime and we’ll always be here to answer your health related questions!), pharmacists play a vital role in the healthcare industry. Yet many people see pharmacists simply as purveyors of a commodity who dispense prescriptions and do little else. As our patients know, we strive every day to do so much more than just hand them their prescriptions on the way out the door. We check drug interactions, counsel, reduce prescription costs for our patients through the use of generics, provide customized medications when taking standard medications is not possible, and so much more!
Over the course of the conference we heard from various legislators and, among other things, learned about how the recently passed national healthcare legislation will affect our patients, how current legislation has been introduced to protect patients from abuses by pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s) such as CVS Caremark and how the Federal Trade Commission is investigating the practices of drug manufacturers when they ‘bribe’ generic drug companies not to produce a generic of their drug (so they can keep drug prices high).
We were also able to talk directly to our U.S. Congressman Bill Foster (see above picture) and a staff member of Senator Dick Durbin about these issues and help to ensure that they are not only aware of the pertinent legislative bills but also will support them when voting.
What this trip also illustrated is that we ALL need to become involved when it comes to healthcare related issues in Washington, especially ones that affect your right to use community pharmacies. We encourage all of our patients to visits www.Fight4Rx.org to stay updated on important healthcare issues and to find out how to contact your legislators to voice your opinions. This is a great way to make sure you are at the table…and not on the menu.
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