Ms. Khani and Mr. Sewell are copresidents of the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action.
The 2008 race for the presidency is well under way and health care is listed among the top priorities of the candidates' domestic policies. Why does health care occupy such a prominent place in the political arena? There are many reasons, among them: the high cost of health care, the rapid growth in the number of Americans without health insurance, and rising economic costs that are forcing millions to forgo medical treatments altogether. It was because of these kinds of issues that the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (CCPA) commissioned a telephone survey to gain insight into the health care issues that matter to likely voters and their view of the role of pharmacy in health care. The survey polled 800 registered American voters from all demographics, considered "very" and "somewhat" likely to participate in the November election.
The respondents confirmed health care as a priority issue when they head to the polls this November, rating it as the third most important issue behind the economy and the war in Iraq. Problems associated with the costs of health care topped voters' concerns, especially among women, minorities, and in households that make <$70,000 a year. When asked to consider how important, if at all, health care and prescription drugs will be in relation to other issues, 69% of the voters asserted that health care would be a "top 5" concern, which included 9% who specify it would be their top consideration, whereas 46% stated the same about prescription drugs (7% single top issue).
Although survey respondents saw problems with the health care system, their concerns did not negatively impact their opinion of the services and care offered by health care professionals. The voters rated their pharmacist as very trustworthy in terms of "protecting [their] best interests as it relates to health care" and considered their pharmacist to be their most accessible and available health care provider.
The voters also rated high the services provided by pharmacists, such as one-on-one counseling, the availability of less expensive generic medicines, and medication therapy management.
Though voters deemed that these pharmacy services should be available, few were aware of most of the services their pharmacies provide. For example, only 36% of voters reported that they "always" or "often" confer with a pharmacist when having their prescription filled, and 63% reported that they do so "once in a while" or "never."
In general, voters consider the role of the pharmacist vital to health care. When voters are asked to assess the role that pharmacists play in patient service and care, a vast majority of voters agreed:
Clearly, survey participants recognize pharmacists as counselors and advisors who are readily accessible to the people who need them. They are allies in keeping their prescription drug costs low and letting them know when a more cost-effective alternative is available.
CCPA, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores fully support this survey because it demonstrates the vital role that pharmacies play in the delivery of health care. Though it also confirmed that Sens John McCain and Barack Obama supporters do not agree on all political issues, they do agree on the value that community pharmacy brings to the front lines of our health care delivery system. Community pharmacy recognizes that these issues are important to likely voters and are working to be at the forefront of the national discourse on health care and health care reform, and are committed to ensuring that patients have access to services provided by their local pharmacy.