A standing-room-only NACDS RxIMPACT-inspired congressional town hall, with House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee Member Rep. Mike Thompson (D) in Santa Rosa, Ca., was filled with engaged—and notably non-confrontational—voters.
NACDS RxIMPACT participation at congressional town halls continues to get positive feedback, despite some ongoing reports of voter ire and dissatisfaction at the events reported widely in the news. Ann Carpico, of Albertsons Companies, attended a standing-room only event in Santa Rosa, Ca., with House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee Member Rep. Mike Thompson (D) late last week. Carpico said that like other town halls across the country, this one boasted an overflow crowd of 1,500 people congregated in high school gymnasium filled—literally—to the rafters. Carpico noted that there was no protesting, or “rowdy crowds,” but rather a “very engaged community” who had lots of concerns about affordability and patient access in Medicare and Medicaid. Demonstrating commitment and determination, some participants had to park more than a half a mile away to attend the event.
Fortified with a clear set of legislative “asks” from NACDS RxIMPACT, Carpico had a chance to speak directly with Rep. Thompson at the town hall and was able to have a more in-depth discussion on provider status legislation—H.R. 592, the Pharmacy & Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act—with the congressman’s wife, a nurse, who expressed support for pharmacists as providers in the healthcare system.
Carpico noted that since there were so many people at the event they could not call on people individually for questions, but participants who were district constituents, as Carpico is, were able to fill out a card and submit it for a promised response from the lawmaker by email.
Carpico quantified pharmacy’s presence in the lawmaker’s district, letting him know there are 80 chain pharmacies operating there. She asked for his renewed support for H.R. 592, the Pharmacy & Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, to improve access to pharmacist services. In addition she requested that as Congress considers changes to the Medicaid program in light of reforms to the Affordable Care Act, that it protect beneficiary access to pharmacy services as a cost-effective approach to Medicaid reform that provides high quality care at a lower cost—an essential component of healthcare reform’s overlying goals.
The recent town halls have been reportedly daunting for some lawmakers because of vocal and at times fractious crowds, but the takeaway from feedback on NACDS RxIMPACT participation at the events has been that it’s not about the representatives, it’s about the voters and a highly-energized and mobilized electorate who want to make sure their voices are heard. As the new administration grapples with the complex issues in healthcare, it is essential for pharmacy to tell its story to Congress. NACDS RxIMPACT consistently provides a platform for pharmacy advocates to make the most of their firsthand interactions with Congress, through events like town halls, pharmacy tours and more.
Another excellent opportunity to meet face-to-face with members of Congress is fast approaching, NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, March 14-15. More than 400 pharmacy advocates will convene in the nation’s capital to meet with the new Congress to tell personal stories about their day-to-day contributions to accessible, affordable healthcare delivery and promote pharmacy priorities. The event is setting records with participants representing 47 states, 45 schools of pharmacy and 33 percent of all NACDS member companies. In addition, 54 percent of participants are new to the event, emphasizing the regenerative force the event has in attracting both seasoned alumni and newly-minted advocates.