We’re encouraging folks to sign two new petitions in support of H.R. 4190 that have just been opened by APhA members Sandra Leal and Steve Soman. As you may already be aware, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Todd Young (R-IN) on March 11 introduced legislation that would enable patient access to, and payment for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities.
On March 13, new practitioner Steve Soman created his second White House We the People petition. The White House petition, Support Bipartisan Bill H.R. 4190 and Recognize Pharmacists as Healthcare Providers, now requires 100,000 signatures by April 12, 2014, to trigger an official review and response from the Obama administration.
He opened his first petition to recognize pharmacists as health care providers on the White House We the People website at the end of 2012. At the time, these petitions had a threshold of 25,000 signatures in 30 days. This first petition hit the magic number in 12 days, as reported in the February 2013 Pharmacy Today. Back then, Steve was a student pharmacist who had found inspiration in Sandra Leal’s persistent advocacy for provider status. One sentence that Sandra had uttered in an interview with his school’s Rho Chi Honor Society newsletter stuck with him: “You might not understand the need for provider status; however, as you mature in the profession, you will realize this is vital for the profession.”
That first petition received a response from Jonathan Blum of CMS in January 2014 that missed the point of provider status. An eloquent letter sent to CMS by Sarah McBane of San Diego was reprinted in full on my blog.
On March 12, Steve commented on my blog to point folks to Sandra Leal’s new Change.org petition. “Let’s get the ball rolling on social media and educate the general public,” he wrote. Sandra’s Change.org petition, Please support a bipartisan bill, H.R. 4190, that would amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include pharmacists as health care providers in medically underserved communities, addresses the U.S. House of Representatives, the chamber of Congress in which the provider status bill was introduced.
Sandra organized her first Change.org petition in November 2011. In an interview published in the February 2012 Today, she noted, “People are surprised that pharmacists are not health care providers under the Social Security Act. What I have learned from this process is that a basic media campaign to inform and educate people is key to making this happen.”
We’ll continue to publicize these two new petitions at our Annual Meeting in Orlando that kicks off this Friday. If you haven’t already signed the White House We the People petition and the Change.org petition, please do so. I did!