Political advocacy: APhA’s Board of Trustees hits the Hill for H.R. 4190

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Ryan, a Capitol Hill rookie, says: ‘It was just policy instead of medicines that I was discussing’

Melody Ryan, PharmD, MPH, BCPS, CGP, FCCP, FAPhA, of Lexington, KY, recently went to the Hill for the first time to meet with her Members of Congress or their staff in their Washington, DC offices. During the meetings she emphasized that H.R. 4190 would provide patients in her largely rural state expanded access to health care through their pharmacists.

Ryan visited the offices of Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) and Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rand Paul (R-KY), and described the meetings as “positive with some interest.” Ryan is Professor in the Departments of Pharmacy Practice and Science and Neurology and Director of International Professional Student Education at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. She practices in neurology ambulatory care.

“I didn’t feel that it was much different than talking with patients,” Ryan told pharmacist.com. “It was just policy instead of medicines that I was discussing.”

As the President of the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research & Science, Ryan hit the Hill in conjunction with APhA’s Board of Trustees on June 23. That day, the Board fanned out across House and Senate offices to talk to Members of Congress and their staff about provider status; in total, APhA leaders participated in almost 40 Hill meetings.

APhA is part of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC), whose mission is to develop and help enact federal legislation that would enable patient access to, and coverage for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities. H.R. 4190 was introduced March 11, 2014. As of today, the bill already has 63 cosponsors.

On the House side, APhA Board members asked representatives and their staff to cosponsor H.R. 4190, wrote APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, in a CEO Blog post published June 30 on pharmacist.com. On the Senate side, although a bill in the Senate has not yet been introduced, APhA Board members informed senators and their staff about pharmacists’ abilities and knowledge, and updated them on H.R. 4190.

Now is the time for pharmacists and student pharmacists to advocate for H.R. 4190 to their Members of Congress.

“H.R. 4190 and provider status broadly remains our number one advocacy priority,” said APhA President Matthew C. Osterhaus, BSPharm, FASCP, FAPhA, co-owner of Osterhaus Pharmacy in Maquoketa, IA. “Building a relationship with your federal legislators and their staff as a trusted source of information is the key to success on the Hill.”

Osterhaus visited the offices of Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA). “The visits were productive and encouraging,” Osterhaus told pharmacist.com. Braley is already a cosponsor of H.R. 4190. The PAPCC is working with the Senate on a companion bill.

For pharmacists and student pharmacists interested in advocating for federal provider status legislation with their Members of Congress, Ryan encouraged “people who haven’t done this before to pair up with a veteran of the experience for their first one” so they can see how the interaction is supposed to go.

More information is available at PharmacistsProvideCare.com.

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