The numbers are impressive—NACDS members have conducted 86 in-district congressional events so far in 2014. But behind the numbers, there are individual stories of NACDS member company pharmacists enumerating the many ways pharmacy impacts the lives of people living in the communities the touring legislators represent.
This week, the field representative for Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) toured the Costco in Chula Vista, Ca. The pharmacy supervisor, Brad Heiner, PharmD, said the legislative staffer had never seen a pharmacy from the inside before. Heiner said, “I think it was valuable to give him an opportunity to see things from our side of the counter.”
During the tour, Heiner conveyed important pro-patient, pro-pharmacy initiatives, such as the expanding role of pharmacists in providing immunizations and medication therapy management (MTM) services. Heiner urged the staffer, who in involved with Rep. Vargas’ healthcare related issues, to ask Vargas to support H.R. 4190 to increase access to MTM services for Medicare beneficiaries.
Stories like this one are common—legislators and their staff members almost always come away from these NACDS RxIMPACT pharmacy tours armed with knowledge about pharmacies they didn’t know before. Fact sheets and talking points are filled with information, but nothing resonates like a story, told firsthand, by someone who sees the benefits of pharmacy in providing accessible, effective healthcare options to patients.
In addition to the Rep. Vargas tour, this week Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) toured a Wylie, Texas Brookshire Grocery; the district representative for Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) toured an Overland Park, Kansas Hy-Vee; and Giant pharmacy advocates participated in a Grasonville, Md., town hall meeting with Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD).
Each pharmacy tour tells Congress a story about why supporting NACDS-backed, bipartisan legislation to designate pharmacists as healthcare providers in medically underserved communities under the Medicare program, and legislation to expand access to MTM services for senior citizens enrolled in the Medicare program, is essential.