American Pharmacists Month: Raising awareness in Congress

From Capitol Hill

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), BSPharm

In honor of October being American Pharmacists Month, I thought it was important to use this opportunity to highlight the work being done in Washington to bring increased visibility to the issues that impact the pharmacist profession and our entire health care system. 

My first several months as a Member of Congress have been one of the greatest honors of my life. I have been working diligently since day one to deliver results, promote conservative values, and improve our health care system that has been under attack. It’s been an exciting opportunity to use my unique experience—as a community pharmacist for more than 30 years—in Congress. I started the University of Georgia’s Pharmacy Fellow program to give firsthand experience to the future of our profession in the law-making process that could have a serious impact on them one day. I am Co-Chair of the House Community Pharmacy Caucus. This caucus is a great platform to educate other Members of Congress and the Washington, DC, community about issues that impact not only pharmacists, but America’s entire health care system. I’ve worked to engage with constituents, as well as the memberships of national, state, and local pharmacy groups, to ensure that important issues at home are being heard. I’ve worked to garner support for important legislation with a potential impact on pharmacists, including H.R. 592, H.R. 244, and H.R. 793.

The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592) adds pharmacists to the Medicare list of providers to ensure pharmacist provider status. Studies have shown that when pharmacists are involved as members of the health care team, patient outcomes improve, patients report higher rates of satisfaction, and overall health care costs are reduced. Allowing pharmacists to have provider status would allow more Medicare patients to have access to patient-centered treatment.

The MAC (Maximum Allowable Cost) Transparency Act (H.R. 244) will provide some light to how third-party pharmacy benefit managers determine the pricing reimbursement of prescription drugs, which will provide greater transparency on how drug prices are set. By doing this, pharmacists and consumers will have a better understanding of how drug prices fluctuate in the market.

The Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 793) allows patients to keep their pharmacists if they want to. Currently, some health care plans provide the patient with a “preferred” pharmacy, which they must use to fill their prescriptions or face higher copays. This legislation ensures that as long as the pharmacy is willing to accept the insurance plan’s pricing, then patients will be able to keep their copays at their trusted pharmacies. 

In addition to supporting legislation, I believe this month is an important time to get the Washington, DC, community involved. I am hosting a pharmacy health fair at the end of October to educate Members of Congress and staff about these important issues. We will also provide health screenings and flu shots for the coming flu season.

Together, we can use American Pharmacists Month to raise awareness of these important issues. I am proud to be pharmacy’s voice in Congress. 

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