Health care reform included several provisions to help community pharmacists help their patients, but pharmacists are in no position to sit on the sidelines now that the bill has become law, Bruce T. Roberts, RPh, said in his final address to NCPA’s Legislation and Government Affairs Conference this week.
Roberts addressed more than 400 community pharmacists and industry officials in a speech kicking off the conference.
Roberts reported that advocacy efforts have improved greatly in recent years, better informing policymakers while ensuring community pharmacy’s voice is heard. Active grassroots engage local pharmacists respected in their communities, such as through pharmacy visits; strong staff; a more robust political action committee (PAC); and greater attendances at meetings such as this one.
As evidence of the importance of effective advocacy, Roberts cited pharmacy provisions of the health care reform law. No matter what pharmacists think of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, he said, the bill included parts that had bipartisan support due to their positive impact for patients and their local pharmacists: scaling back major Medicaid cuts in generic drug reimbursement by adopting a fair average manufacturer price formula; a conditional pharmacy exemption from Medicare durable medical equipment accreditation requirements; and limited disclosure requirements for pharmacy benefit managers.
Roberts cautioned, however, that only the first steps have been taken down the road of implementing these provisions. Continued engagement in the public policy process will be critical to making community pharmacists heard throughout the process. And many other challenges lie ahead.
More broadly, Roberts urged pharmacists to focus on increasing patient adherence to their medication, estimated to be a $290 billion cost to the U.S. health care system. Pharmacists must take ownership of the prescription drug benefit, he said, to make sure everything possible is done to ensure that drugs are taken correctly.