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Political Action

For as long as I can remember (and that’s a long time), the battle cry in pharmacy has been “Get into politics or get out of Pharmacy.”  That cry is no less important now than it was forty years ago.  While legislative challenges abound, there are friends of pharmacy and patient champions in Congress.  If you don’t believe it, take a look at the You Tube video of Georgia U.S. Representative Doug Collins defending pharmacy in a House committee meeting.  Whether you agree or disagree with his political views, Representative Collins “gets it” where pharmacy is concerned.  He understands what it means to patients and to healthcare to have healthy and financially secure community pharmacies available to patients…….and he’s willing to stand up for us. 

Rep. Collins, and others know as our healthcare system moves from fee for service to a patient centric, value based payment model that the professional role of the pharmacist will be taking on a more meaningful position in providing patient care.

The value of pharmacy services is undeniable.  Multiple studies over many years have shown pharmacist involvement to improve care and reduce the cost of care.  Improving medication adherence in a diabetic yields a seven dollar healthcare savings for each dollar spent on pharmacy.  Pharmacy involvement in hospital discharge transitions of care has been shown to reduce costly early readmissions.  The case could be made (and I have made it at multiple forums) that the success of value based healthcare, in many instances, pivots on pharmacy involvement.  Simply put, if pharmacists are not involved in patient care, it will create a void into which one could not pour enough money to fill.

Many stakeholders are realizing the value of pharmacy services and moving to include them in comprehensive payment plans.  While this is a good sign and a positive direction, we must not lose sight of the fact that these stakeholders actions are often being promulgated by individuals working outside the C-suites.  While executives within organizations might have the data to see the value of pharmacy to their organization, many times the people actually doing the work are not privy to the whole picture.  In order for healthcare to become affordable, those making the rules need to have panoramic views of the entire field and not look at healthcare spending through a microscope.

MedHere Today is working diligently with other national organizations to bring pharmacy’s message to the forefront.  We have presented our case to Congress, CMS, commercial payers and the like.  We will continue to do so.  Those of us bringing this message to the rule-makers and rule-enforcers need help.  Every pharmacist needs to be an advocate of the profession.  We each need to let the public know what we do goes beyond putting pills in a vial and how our actions reduce healthcare spend.  Without a concerted effort, our clinical services will not be included in the value based purchasing conversation.  That will create a black hole that will need to have money poured into it for generations.

Political action is vital.  Beyond that, a concerted, sustained information agenda directed toward those who carry out legislative directives is no less imperative.

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