Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor
Last week, US Senators Jerry Moran (R, KS) and Jon Tester (D, MT) established the first-ever Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus, an effort designed to advocate for community pharmacy issues while serving as a clearinghouse for ideas and information about the important role community pharmacies play in the delivery of health care.
The Senate group will complement the Congressional Community Pharmacy Caucus in the House, which was founded in 2007 and is currently co-chaired by US Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, WA) and Mike Ross (D, AK). That caucus now features 30 House members.
“Community pharmacists are a vital part of our nation’s health care delivery system,” said Senator Moran, who was one of the original founders of the caucus and was the lead sponsor of several pieces of legislation in the House, including the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2009. “Access to medications, health care supplies, and the counsel pharmacists provide is very important to the health and well-being of every American. The Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus will provide valuable resources to senators as we work to ensure all Americans have better access to affordable health care.”
Also a strong supporter of community pharmacy, Senator Tester was the lead sponsor of legislation that exempted many small pharmacies from duplicative, burdensome regulations when supplying patients with diabetic test supplies.
"Community pharmacies provide essential services for Montana's rural communities," he said. "These small businesses are a critical part of what keeps rural America strong and healthy."
Both the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) have voiced their support of the caucus.
“We are pleased that this bipartisan caucus has been formed to fight for the vital role that community pharmacists play in the health care of countless patients in communities throughout the country,” said Brian Gallagher, BSPharm, JD, senior vice president of Government Affairs at APhA, in a statement
. “APhA looks forward to working with caucus members to ensure that patients have access to the appropriate tools and pharmacist services that will help them manage their medication therapy, reduce adverse drug events, and improve therapeutic outcomes.”
B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, executive vice president and CEO of NCPA, praised the work of Senators Moran and Tester, noting that “they have long advocated common-sense solutions for the challenges facing community pharmacists and their patients.” These solutions, he said
, “have included increasing patient choice and reducing wasteful pharmaceutical spending by reforming pharmacy benefit management business practices and preserving patient access to durable medical equipment and in-person counseling on its proper use. Indeed, greater utilization of clinically trained community pharmacists in federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid can produce improvements in all metrics of success.”
Hoey urges other Senators to become members of the Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus, and is encouraged by the number of Representatives who have already joined the Congressional Community Pharmacy Caucus.
“In supporting their local pharmacies, these lawmakers are also standing up for small businesses that are community pillars and contribute greatly to the local economy, by providing jobs and tax revenue,” he added. “Together this bipartisan, bicameral effort can make our health care system more effective and less expensive."