Among the recent headlines out of Congress was the designation Thursday of U.S. Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) to serve as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. In addition to its tax-writing responsibilities, Ways and Means has significant say over Medicare.
Levin told The Washington Post that he’s “acting chairman” while U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) takes a leave of absence from the position. Rangel has been supportive of pharmacy, especially on the limited exemption we’re seeking from Medicare’s durable medical equipment accreditation requirement. While the length of Levin’s chairmanship may be uncertain, his support for community pharmacy is not.
Levin reminds NCPA staffers that he’s a loyal patron of an independent pharmacy in his Detroit-area congressional district. America’s Pharmacist, NCPA’s flagship magazine, chronicled his visit to Sterling Drugs in Warren, Mich. in May 2008.
On the issues, his office has always been willing to listen and to help when possible. For example, in late 2009, his staff helped reach the right people at the Treasury Department. That facilitated a meeting to try to work through new requirements on flexible spending account (FSA) debit card transactions that were disadvantaging independent community pharmacies.
With so much at stake in Washington, local pharmacists are fortunate to have many friends on both sides of the aisle in Congress. During Rangel’s leave of absence, there will continue to be a Ways and Means Chairman who can relate to pharmacists.