In her keynote address at the NACDS Total Store Expo, Hillary Clinton lauded pharmacists for the important role they play in our nation’s health care system.
In her keynote address at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Total Store Expo in Las Vegas on Monday, August 12, 2013, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed the United States’ rapidly changing health care system and lauded pharmacists and drug stores for the role they play in it.
At the start of her speech, Clinton noted that many aspects of our health care system have changed since she last addressed the NACDS in 1993, not the least of which is the passage and ongoing implementation of health care reform.
“I’m here in part today to thank you because there’s something that hasn’t changed in the last 20 years,” Clinton said. “America’s pharmacists and drug stores are still on the front lines of improving our nation’s health care system. You are the ones who are helping to educate millions of Americans who just want straight, accurate information about the Affordable Care Act, including how to enroll.”
Just as pharmacists were key to helping with implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, she said, so are they essential in helping to transition the health care system away from a fee-for-service model toward one focused on prevention, wellness, and improved outcomes.
“Every day I know you’re answering questions from customers and neighbors that can help prevent costly illnesses. How do I treat this? What medicine should I be taking? Does this interact with another medicine I’m taking? Do I really need to go to a doctor? So it is no surprise that year after year, our fellow citizens rank pharmacists among the most trusted professionals in the country
,” Clinton said. “Now part of that is because there’s a lot more going on in drug stores beyond the pharmacy counters today, and as the Affordable Care Act expands coverage, as more baby boomers enroll in Medicare, I think you’re going to have even more opportunities to provide direct health care services.”
Clinton acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, nor will its implementation be perfect. However, she said, “I personally believe that if we work together and, frankly, if we follow the example of many of you who are trying to figure out how to serve the people who come into your pharmacy and into your store every day, we will make progress together.”
The secrets to improving our health care system, Clinton said, are leadership, collaboration, inclusivity, and innovation. As examples of this sort of collaboration, she cited her ability to serve as an effective member of President Obama’s cabinet after a hard-fought primary campaign, President Clinton’s work with House Speaker Newt Gingrich to balance the budget, and assistance offered by the United States to European nations after World War II through the Marshall Plan.
In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session following the speech, NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson asked Clinton how she thought the American health care system would be different today if health care reform had passed during the Clinton administration as well as for her thoughts on the Arab Spring, ongoing terrorism threats, the debate over NSA surveillance, and the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.
Clinton said that it was difficult to say exactly how passage of health care reform 2 decades ago would have changed the health care system, but that in its absence, problems we faced then grew more severe.
“There have been some really positive efforts, but the cost has gone up, the amount of our GDP has gone up, and the outcomes are not commensurate with the amount of money that we’re spending because we have a disorganized system, we don’t have enough transparency about cost,” Clinton said. “One of the things that is happening under the Affordable Care Act, which I fully support, is putting out more information about what the difference in cost is between certain surgical procedures in different hospital settings. Because ... information is essential for us to make the right choices. ”
In closing, Anderson expressed appreciation for Clinton’s esteem for the role played by the show’s attendees in helping to improve the nation’s health care system. “We want to thank you for your understanding of our industry, of what these wonderful people do every day on behalf of the American people,” he said.