Outstanding progress! Pharmacists advocate for provider status

Over the last few months, APhA members have been out in full force advocating for the federal provider status legislation, H.R. 592 and S. 314, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act. These encounters were focused on garnering additional sponsors of the legislation or thanking legislators for signing onto the bill. To date, we have 20 Senate cosponsors and 149 House cosponsors. Here’s a recap.

The APhA Board of Trustees recently stormed Capitol Hill, where 20 Board members met with staffers in 42 congressional offices. Importantly, APhA Honorary President Metta Lou Henderson, PhD, met with Sen. John McCain’s (R­AZ) staffer David C. Bennett. After listening to how Henderson has helped patients in her community for decades, Bennett agreed that the bill seemed like it would increase access to health care for patients in rural areas, which is a major concern in Arizona.

APhA President-elect Jean-Venable “Kelly” R. Goode, PharmD, BCPS, FAPhA, FCCP, met with Rep. Dave Brat (R­VA) and I met with Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D­MD). The Maryland pharmacy deans visited with Mikulski before my meeting with her. Both Sen. Mikulski and Rep. Brat signed on as cosponsors the same day as the Board meeting!

APhA members also attended events for Members of Congress in their districts to talk about H.R. 592 and S. 314. Michael Wolcott, PharmD, a PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Resident at Duke University Hospital, attended a jazz reception for Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) in Durham, NC, to show his support for the Congressman and to discuss the impact pharmacists have on patient care. Wolcott talked with Rep. Butterfield, who was an original cosponsor of H.R. 592, about the importance of the bill, which would enable patient access to, and coverage for, Medicare Part B services provided by pharmacists in undeserved communities.

Former APhA President Steve Simenson, BSPharm, FAPhA, FACA, discussed cosponsoring  S. 314 with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) at her birthday event in Minneapolis. Simenson is President and Managing Partner of Goodrich Pharmacies in Minnesota. Sen. Klobuchar has been an advocate for interprofessional team based care and has continually demonstrated support for pharmacists’ contributions to patient care.

APhA member Jordan Marie Ballou, PharmD, and Rep. Renee L. Ellmers (R-NC) spoke about health care and pharmacists’ services at an event in Dunn, NC. Ballou, a new practitioner, attended on behalf of APhA to thank Ellmers for cosponsoring H.R. 592.

Thank you to everyone who has advocated for this important legislation. To learn how you can support the provider status initiative, visit www.PharmacistProvideCare.com.