Next month is American Pharmacists Month—31 days in October to celebrate all of the hard work and dedication of pharmacists and student pharmacists across the country. American Pharmacists Month serves as a wonderful reminder of all that you do to give back to your communities, your patients, and your profession. It is a time to show pride in and spread the word about the pharmacy profession, and the number one way to do that is to help advocate—loudly and proudly—for pharmacists’ provider status!
Pharmacists and their patient care services are an integral part of the patient’s health care team because of the value they bring to patients and the health care system. When pharmacists are included on the health care team, outcomes improve and costs go down.
For decades, pharmacists have been one of the few health professions whose value as health care providers has not been acknowledged in federal law. Nearly all other health professionals’ services are rightfully covered under Medicare laws, including chiropractors, midwives, and dietitians—but not pharmacists. Federal acknowledgment of the value of pharmacists and their services is critical not only to patients but also to the future of the profession—by providing new job opportunities and greater professional fulfillment for those wishing to provide additional patient care services.
Current legislation in Congress—Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592/S. 314)—would, if passed, provide Medicare beneficiaries in medically underserved areas with access to health care through pharmacist-provided services under Medicare Part B.
Having federal legislation is an important step toward better recognizing pharmacists’ patient care services. But for the movement to advance further in the legislative process, APhA needs your help. Members of Congress are more likely to support and vote for a bill if they know lots of people around the country want it. So to help advance provider status legislation—H.R. 592 in the House and S. 314 in the Senate—pharmacists and student pharmacists need to show Members of Congress that this issue is important to their constituents. The more we send our message to Congress, the more likely Members are to move the bill forward for a vote—and pass it!
American Pharmacists Month provides a great opportunity to advocate for the profession and for provider status. One method of doing so is to write a letter to Congress. Communication to Members of Congress and their staff from constituents is critical.
APhA knows that it can be a bit intimidating to write a letter to Congress on your own, so we’ve made it easy for you. If you go online to PharmacistsProvideCare.com and click on “Take Action,” you’ll be directed to our automatic letter form. You don’t need to know who your Member of Congress is—the website does it for you. All you need to do is fill in your home or business address, and we’ll provide a prewritten letter about provider status to both of your senators and your representative. And if one or more of them has already signed on to cosponsor the legislation, that’s great—we’ll provide a thank-you note for you to send!
If you’ve already sent a letter to your Members of Congress and are looking to make a bigger impact, there are other ways to get involved as well. When your Member of Congress is home in the district, it’s a great time to schedule a visit with them or invite him or her to your pharmacy or practice site. A pharmacy visit would be a wonderful opportunity to show the benefits of pharmacists and their services firsthand. Check out our guide to scheduling a local pharmacy visit at www.pharmacistsprovidecare.com/guide-scheduling-local-pharmacy-visit.
Sending letters and meeting with your Members of Congress go a long way in spreading the word about provider status and helping Congress realize just how much pharmacists contribute to patient care. So while you’re celebrating all the hard work you do for patients during American Pharmacists Month, make sure you take a moment this month and help advocate for provider status. Doing so will help patients gain access to health care through pharmacists’ services while also improving the future of the profession!