Georgia state Sen. Buddy Carter, BSPharm, moved closer to becoming the only pharmacist in Congress with his win in the Republican runoff election in Georgia’s First Congressional District on July 22. The general elections this year will be held November 4. APhA supports and endorses Carter.
“It is my great pleasure to congratulate fellow pharmacist Buddy Carter on winning his party’s nomination for Georgia’s First Congressional District,” APhA Executive Vice President Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, said in a statement. “As health care providers, pharmacists offer unique skills to improve health care for our patients. By sending a pharmacist to Congress, these skills and perspectives will help shape health care policy that will improve access and quality for patients everywhere.”
Carter was recognized with the 2014 APhA Hubert H. Humphrey Award at the 2014 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition in Orlando, where he also served as a keynote speaker during the Second General Session. He received his BSPharm from the University of Georgia and has been a pharmacist for more than 30 years.
Carter took time out of his busy campaign schedule to answer the following questions from Lauren DePutter, APhA Senior Manager of Grassroots Advocacy and PAC (Political Action Committee). Carter’s responses were first published in a recent APhA–PAC newsletter. For more information on Buddy Carter’s campaign, visit his website at www.buddycarterforcongress.com.
Why is it important to have a pharmacist in Congress?
Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 members of the U.S. Senate, there is not a single pharmacist. Ours is, in theory, a representative government. Without a pharmacist in Congress, it is more difficult to pursue our issues and initiatives than it would be if there were members that understood our perspective firsthand. It’s especially important while our health care system is undergoing dramatic changes to have leaders [who] have been in the trenches on health care issues before and [who] understand the importance of the relationship between a health care service provider and the patient. Remember, no one can represent us like one of us.
What do you hope to accomplish if you win the election?
My goal is to represent the first congressional district effectively while maintaining my core priorities of fiscal conservatism. I also want to be part of the solutions to the problems we face as a nation, particularly those relating to health care.
Why is it important to the health care system for pharmacists to obtain provider status?
Health care delivery will be enhanced as pharmacists are one of the most readily accessible health care providers. This is particularly true in rural areas. The pharmacists who are graduating today are some of the most clinically gifted students in health care and they are well prepared to provide much needed services. It would be an injustice to the health care delivery system not to have pharmacists involved.
How can pharmacists affect the political and policy process to ensure the future of their profession?
Any pharmacist who thinks that politics doesn’t impact our profession is just kidding themselves. The laws written and passed into law by Congress have a direct impact on pharmacy.
How does your experience as a pharmacist help you in the world of politics?
As a practicing [community] pharmacist for over 33 years, I have dealt with patients regarding one of their most important issues—their health. Pharmacy is one of the most trusted professions around, and this has helped me tremendously in politics both with my constituents and with my legislative colleagues who seek me out on health care issues.
How big of a role is health care playing in your campaign?
No question about it—everywhere we go, Obamacare is the number one issue that people want to talk about. There is no better time for pharmacy to be at the table than during this discussion.