Mr. Sochoka Goes to Washington

MARCH 02, 2014
As regular readers know by now, I have a penchant for health care politics. I have been a proponent of the Affordable Care Act from the get-go and still think it should have gone further and included a public option, which really would have made for a more competitive market. I only wish I could grab the ear of a senator or congressman to tell them what I think about the ACA and what the pharmacist’s role in it can become. The funny thing is, I am about to have the opportunity to do exactly that.
 
Last fall, I received an email recruiting pharmacists who were interested in taking part in the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Rx Impact Day on Capitol Hill this March 11 and 12. I replied that I was interested in participating. So long passed before I got the confirmation I was going that I had forgotten I had applied. But now I am going to have the chance to talk with those who represent pharmacists in Washington, DC, about our health care system, where it is headed, and where I'd like to see it go. Score.
 
I don't know exactly who I'll be talking to, but I imagine that it will include the congressmen from my home state of Pennsylvania and, more specifically, those from the northeastern part of the state. That would mean that I'll be talking to Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and Congressmen Matt Cartwright, Tom Marino, and Lou Barletta. Of these, only Senator Casey and Congressman Cartwright are friends of the ACA. The other three are on the GOP mission to defund or repeal it completely. It will be my message to them that a bill aiming to do this will never make it out of the Senate and would be vetoed by the President if it ever did. Since the ACA is here to stay for the foreseeable future, I will emphasize what we as pharmacists can do to serve the public through its provisions.
 
I will be making my case that as the emphasis of our health care system shifts toward primary care, correctly trained pharmacists can produce results in this capacity for far less money than can physicians. Pharmacists, especially those with the PharmD degree, are poised to become the utility infielders of health care. Community pharmacies can become centers of preventive medicine, teaching patients to manage their conditions with diet and exercise in order to REDUCE the amount of medication they are taking, thereby saving money on health care. Essentially I want to promote the concept of a drugless pharmacy. Pretty cutting edge, if I say so myself.
 
I am not alone in this stance. When Pharmacy Times ran a column I wrote on the role of pharmacists in preventive medicine, I received a few Facebook messages telling me that there are pharmacies around the country doing this. The key is getting the insurance companies to pay us for providing preventive services. Pharmacists have been giving away great advice for years. But our services are of worth, and we need to be properly compensated for them. Money spent on us is health care money well spent. Peace.
 
Jay Sochoka, RPh, is Beltway-bound.

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