Let me just start by saying that this has been a great summer on all fronts, not the least of which being the pharmacy profession’s stellar efforts to achieve provider status for the patients we serve. In fact, provider status was at the top of the list of discussion points when ASHP Vice President Kasey Thompson and I met with White House staff last week to talk about expanded roles for pharmacists.
Our provider status campaign is making great progress. To date, we have 71 Congressional co-sponsors for our provider status bill, H.R. 4190. What’s even more amazing is that support for H.R. 4190 is truly bipartisan with an almost 50-50 split between Democrat and Republican co-sponsors. What a great story to tell that pharmacists seeking to improve patient care were able to bring a highly divided Congress together around a common cause.
Another exciting story to tell about H.R. 4190 is that two of the co-sponsors are physicians. I think it’s safe to say that the value pharmacists bring to the patient care team is proven and is widely recognized and accepted by other providers and the public.
We have an exceptional coalition working hand-in-hand to tell the compelling story of what pharmacists can do to improve the lives of patients, and how provider status would improve patient access to pharmacists. The Patient Access to Pharmacists Care Coalition (PAPCC) is comprised of most of the major pharmacy professional organizations along with a host of others, including the largest chain pharmacies and their respective trade organization.
But, it’s not just our efforts in Washington, D.C., that are making the difference. ASHP members from all over the country have been writing thousands of letters to their members of Congress and giving to the ASHP Political Action Committee (PAC) in record numbers. Further, they have been meeting with their congressional representatives and senators when they are back in the state, hosting practice site visits, attending political fundraisers, writing opinion pieces in their local newspapers, and various other grassroots outreach efforts. I can’t even start to express how excited I am to see all of this happening—keep up the great work; you’re making a major difference!
We have great momentum on achieving provider status. However, we still have much work to do. With elections approaching in November, we are devoting the rest of the year to gaining more co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, getting a companion bill introduced in the Senate, growing the coalition to include a variety of other non-pharmacy stakeholders, educating members of Congress and the public, and supporting financially through PAC contributions the campaigns of political candidates that support provider status for pharmacists and the patients we serve.
Given that the 2014 legislative calendar is drawing to a close, we anticipate provider status bills being reintroduced in the next Congress starting in January 2015, and then re-doubling our efforts to get a bill passed and signed into law. Admittedly, these are ambitious goals, but ASHP and our partners are committed to making provider status a reality for our patients in the coming years.
In September, we will be taking nearly 100 ASHP members to Capitol Hill as part of our annual Legislative Day to meet with their congressmen and senators to talk about the importance of increasing access to the patient care services of pharmacists, and to ask them to support H.R. 4190. This demonstration of support will undoubtedly send a strong message that patients need greater access to pharmacists.
As I conclude this update, I want to say thank you to all of you—our members—for your selfless efforts on behalf of your patients. Secondly, please keep reaching out to and educating your members of Congress about the vital roles you play in advancing healthcare and improving the lives of your patients.
If you haven’t written a letter to your member of Congress, please take a moment to do so through ASHP’s grassroots center. It just takes a few minutes, and every letter and outreach effort makes a difference. Also, if you have not yet made a contribution to the ASHP PAC, please consider doing so. We’ve had the most successful political fundraising campaign ever in the history of ASHP, and it is making a difference with regards to our being able to support political candidates that support provider status.
I look forward to updating you again soon about our efforts to achieve provider status. Until then, I hope you have a great summer!