NACDS President & CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE (right), met with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (left).

“It strikes me that the changes in the marketplace equal the changes in the political marketplace.” Former Mississippi Governor and Former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour spoke those words on December 2, 2015, at the NACDS Leadership Roundtable in New York City.

I wonder if even he knew how right he was, and how right he was going to be.

The political dynamics today may be as turbulent—if not more-so—than at any other time in our nation’s history. I’ll leave it to another time and another place to assess the relative turbulence compared with marketplace dynamics.

In any case, having reached the summer of 2017, a look back at the beginning of the Trump Administration and the 115th Congress reveals the critical importance of NACDS’ approach to advocacy in the face of any shifts in the political landscape. Put simply, NACDS’ approach relies on maintaining a constantly proactive footing, and focusing on getting the politics right to ultimately get the policy right—for the benefit of patients, society, and pharmacy.

In fact, far beyond this year alone, this tenacious approach has served NACDS well over the past decade. For example, think back to the summer and fall of 2007. Before the Affordable Care Act was even thought of initially, NACDS was engaging aggressively in nascent conversations about healthcare reform emanating from the candidates for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations. NACDS was advancing pharmacy as the “face of neighborhood healthcare” well before Sen. Barack Obama was even the 2008 Democratic nominee, let alone the 44th President of the United States.

Throughout the course of the past decade, and in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential race, NACDS fought the fights that were before us at any point in time—while still looking ahead in anticipation of shifting political tides. Once again, anticipating the need to remain proactive, and with the help of expert speakers who have shared their insights at NACDS meetings and conferences, NACDS set the stage for representing pharmacy well amid any potential election outcome.

You may have heard of the NACDS Future Value Targeting initiative—which really is a complement to NACDS’ highly effective approach to strategic planning. With the leadership of the NACDS Board of Directors, NACDS put Future Value Targeting into motion well over a year ago to assure effective representation of the industry moving forward. Through this initiative, NACDS is in a constant state of evolution—operating more and more like a think tank and like a start-up in this highly competitive marketplace of ideas.

As a result of NACDS Future Value Targeting, and given the new political environment, NACDS was ready to move forward with the Access Agenda, which positions our issues in a new, comprehensive and effective manner; with the Regulatory Reform Initiative, which advocates for pro-patient and pro-pharmacy policies; and with the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, which will be important in conveying the narrative of pharmacy in a way that maintains and builds trust.

Also, NACDS is demonstrating pharmacy’s ongoing commitment—and dedication to serving as a working partner for new solutions—on issues including opioids and prescription drug affordability. We are maintaining the fight for fair pharmacy reimbursement and for pharmacy access across government programs, and we are working to optimize patient care through the use of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians alike. Pushing the federal pharmacist provider status legislation is a significant part of this, as is advancing state scope-of-practice priorities.

We are maintaining a highly visible presence in Washington, D.C.—including among new leaders who will figure significantly in government decision-making. Just a matter of weeks after the 2016 elections, NACDS reached out to the Trump Administration with extensive information about our policies. We have met with leaders in the Administration—including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Members of the NACDS Board of Directors conducted a highly effective two days of meetings with key members of Congress in June.

Reflecting our commitment to employing cutting-edge advocacy tools, NACDS launched a partnership with Morning Consult through which we can show members of Congress polling data about pharmacy and about our issues—polling data which is specific to their states and Congressional Districts. Of course, we continue to rely on the exceptional NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program which we have built to put a face on the powerful story of pharmacy. And the NACDS Political Action Committee continues to exert tremendous leadership on a bipartisan basis to keep the focus on electing pro-pharmacy and pro-business members of Congress.

Many observers refer to the remarkable change sweeping through the political arena. The message that I want to convey to NACDS members is that—by maintaining this proactive footing—NACDS commits to remaining part of the change, rather than just becoming affected by the change. Thank you for your engagement in this vitally important work.