APhA–PAC amplifies the voices of pharmacists and the patients they serve

Congress’s summer recess comes to an end next week—thanks to all who used the opportunity to invite your elected officials to see firsthand the work you do for your patients and communities. There is no more persuasive strategy to win lawmakers' support than sharing your stories, whether the goal is reforming harmful PBM policies such as direct and indirect remuneration (DIR), recognizing pharmacists and their services in Medicare Part B, or empowering pharmacists to take a more active role in fighting the opioid crisis.

APhA works to support you and your livelihood and ensure patients’ access to the quality care pharmacists provide. This year alone, APhA members and staff have met with 238 federal legislators and their aides, attended more than 30 congressional hearings, and submitted more than 10 comment letters in response to federal legislationas well as over 30 comment letters on proposed and final federal regulations from HHS, CMS, FDA, EPA, and DEA.

The APhA Board of Trustees and state pharmacy association executives will receive an update on APhA’s advocacy activity when they meet in Washington, DC, later this month, but I want to share some highlights of the APhA Political Action Committee (APhA–PAC) status report with everyone because it takes ALL of our participation to advance the profession.

Our political system functions as a democracy where many voices are striving to be heard. That’s where PACs come in. A PAC is a group of individual citizens who share common concerns and interests and pool their financial resources and talents to elect public officials who share those same concerns and interests. PACs offer opportunities to develop relationships with lawmakers and staff, to help lawmakers understand an industry and the impact of regulatory and policy initiatives on that industry, and to enhance political credibility with lawmakers.

The APhA–PAC is no different. It supports candidates for federal office who have demonstrated support for pharmacy issues and recognize the value of pharmacists in the health care system, with the goal of promoting and protecting our profession.

I’m incredibly proud of APhA–PAC staff and the APhA members who have stepped up for the PAC over the past few years. In 2016, the PAC raised $61,138. In 2017, we were up to $79,163. And 2018 was a tremendously successful year: The PAC raised $112,748! Our goal for 2019 is $118,385.83, and we’re getting there, although there is still a lot of work to do—as of today, the PAC has raised $73,026.41.

Compared with the average professional association PAC, APhA–PAC is small. In the 2017–18 election cycle, the average PAC from a professional association raised $1.5 million, while APhA–PAC raised $191,911.48. Still, APhA–PAC was more successful in the re-election efforts of the incumbent candidates it supported, with 96.5% re-elected versus the 91% average.

There are a lot of people to thank for the APhA–PAC’s success. Members of APhA’s Special Interest Groups and Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA–ASP) do tremendous work raising funds and enthusiasm for APhA’s advocacy work. And we couldn’t do it without our rank-and-file members who give generously to advance the profession. In a survey of APhA members, 95% reported that advocacy is one of the primary reasons they joined.

To all of you who have supported the APhA–PAC and APhA’s advocacy work in general—whether by calling, e-mailing, visiting, or writing letters to elected officials—THANK YOU!