Ms. Khani and Mr. Sewell are copresidents of the Coalition for Community Pharmacy Action.
The 2008 race for the presidencyis well under way and health careis listed among the top prioritiesof the candidates' domestic policies.Why does health care occupy such aprominent place in the political arena?There are many reasons, among them:the high cost of health care, the rapidgrowth in the number of Americanswithout health insurance, and rising economiccosts that are forcing millions toforgo medical treatments altogether. Itwas because of these kinds of issuesthat the Coalition for Community PharmacyAction (CCPA) commissioned atelephone survey to gain insightinto thehealth care issues that matter to likelyvoters and their view of the role of pharmacyin health care. The survey polled800 registered American voters from alldemographics, considered "very" and"somewhat" likely to participate in theNovember election.
The respondents confirmed healthcare as a priority issue when theyhead to the polls this November, ratingit as the third most important issuebehind the economy and the war in Iraq.Problems associated with the costs ofhealth care topped voters' concerns,especially among women, minorities,and in households that make <$70,000a year. When asked to consider howimportant, if at all, health care and prescriptiondrugs will be in relation to otherissues, 69% of the voters asserted thathealth care would be a "top 5" concern,which included 9% who specify it wouldbe their top consideration, whereas 46%stated the same about prescription drugs(7% single top issue).
Although survey respondents sawproblems with the health care system,their concerns did not negatively impacttheir opinion of the services and careoffered by health care professionals.The voters rated their pharmacist asvery trustworthy in terms of "protecting[their] best interests as it relates tohealth care" and considered their pharmacistto be their most accessible andavailable health care provider.
The voters also rated high the servicesprovided by pharmacists, such as one-on-one counseling, the availability ofless expensive generic medicines, andmedication therapy management.
Though voters deemed that thesepharmacy services should be available,few were aware of most of the servicestheir pharmacies provide. For example,only 36% of voters reported that they"always" or "often" confer with a pharmacistwhen having their prescriptionfilled, and 63% reported that they do so"once in a while" or "never."
In general, voters consider the role ofthe pharmacist vital to health care. Whenvoters are asked to assess the role thatpharmacists play in patient service andcare, a vast majority of voters agreed:
Clearly, survey participants recognizepharmacists as counselors and advisorswho are readily accessible to the peoplewho need them. They are allies in keepingtheir prescription drug costs low andletting them know when a more cost-effectivealternative is available.
CCPA, the National CommunityPharmacists Association, and the NationalAssociation of Chain Drug Storesfully support this survey because it demonstratesthe vital role that pharmaciesplay in the deliveryof health care.Though it also confirmed that Sens JohnMcCain and Barack Obama supportersdo not agree on all political issues, theydo agree on the value that communitypharmacy brings to the front lines of ourhealth care delivery system. Communitypharmacy recognizes that these issuesare important to likely voters and areworking to be at the forefront of the nationaldiscourse on health care and healthcare reform, and are committed to ensuringthat patients have access to servicesprovided by their local pharmacy.