Ms. Khani and Mr. Sewell are copresidents of the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action.
The American public signaled a mandate for change in the historic election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. The Obama administration and Congress will confront many domestic and foreign policy challenges, and arguably, no challenge will be greater than reforming the US health care system. With economic woes and systemic challenges in the delivery and payment of health care services, the need for transformative reform continues to resonate with lawmakers and constituents.
The case for an expanded role for pharmacy is clear. An August 2007 report by the National Council on Patient Information and Education cited an economic analysis that failure to take medications as prescribed costs an estimated $177 billion annually in direct and indirect health care costs. Furthermore, in addition to their dramatic human costs, an October 2007 report released by the Milken Institute indicated that the 7 most common chronic diseases in the nation inflict a $1.3-trillion annual drag on the economy, a toll that could reach nearly $6 trillion by the middle of the century.
As medication experts, highly trusted and accessible, community pharmacists are uniquely qualified to work in partnership with patients and other health care providers to tackle the complexities of chronic disease care and appropriate medication use. Research studies have shown that pharmacistprovided counseling and disease management programs have resulted in reduced mortality, morbidity, and an appreciable reduction in health care spending. Pharmacists are in a unique position to make disease management programs available to patients and help the system reap tremendous savings from pharmacists' interventions.
The Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action (CCPA) is an alliance between the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), which together represents more than 55,000 community pharmacies. CCPA leverages the support, effort, and infrastructure of NACDS and NCPA while engaging community pharmacy to participate and advocate on issues affecting the industry.
Throughout the presidential campaign, President-elect Obama spoke of his commitment to health care coverage for all Americans and the need to fix a broken health care system. While we must wait to learn more of the specifics of President-elect Obama's health care reform plans, his actions as a senator demonstrated support for several community pharmacy issues. Most notably, he was a cosponsor of the Fair Medicaid Drug Payment Act (S 1951), legislation to address the drastic Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement reductions enacted as part of the Deficit Reduction Act.
CCPA looks forward to working with President-elect Obama, Congress, patients, and others to strengthen our nation's health care system, utilizing pharmacists to improve health care outcomes and reduce costs.