Supporting Community Pharmacy Advocacy Across State Associations and McKesson Partnerships

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McKesson and state associations are advocating for community pharmacies through initiatives like McKesson Amplify that support advocacy work.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDCES, VP, Chief Pharmacy Officer from Health Mart and Krystal Weaver, PharmD, EVP and CEO from NASPA discussed advocacy efforts for community pharmacies at the state and national levels, at the 2024 McKesson ideaShare conference. Lyons and Weaver spoke about supporting state associations' advocacy work through initiatives like McKesson Amplify, which provides financial backing. They also discussed partnerships with organizations like the American Pharmacists Association to engage students and support pharmacists providing services. Lyons and Weaver noted that the goal is to advocate for issues like fair reimbursement and expanded scope of practice to sustain pharmacy practices.

Pharmacy Times

What issues should community pharmacies actively advocate for at the state and national level?

Nancy Lyons

There's so many, with just to keep pharmacy sustainable, there are so many things that they should be working on at the federal level. HR 1770 and Senate 2477 have been career long passions and different iterations going through the House and Congress, really just giving pharmacists the ability to bill for the services that those senior citizens have come to expect throughout the pandemic. The things like immunizations, testing, and some of those type of antiviral medications. We're really hoping to get those through. But it's really anything at a state level that's going to impact sustainable practice. Things to link payment to the surfaces that pharmacists are willing and able to provide are always what we're what we're looking for.

Pharmacy Times

How does McKesson and Health Mart help advocate on behalf of independent pharmacy?

Nancy Lyons

There are so many ways that I think a lot of people don't know about. We have a public policy team that is dedicated every day to federal and state issues. The experience on that team is incredible. And they pay it forward. So once a year, they bring all of us in for a fly in so McKesson, leaders from around the country that are linked to their state, constituents will come in spend today, kind of in bootcamp, with those experts learning about issues. Then we rally on the hill to go in and educate with the patient comes first. So, whatever the issues are, it's always centered around the customers core belief that the patient comes first.

Key Takeaways

  1. State pharmacy associations play a critical role in advocating for community pharmacies at the state level through their policy expertise and advocacy work.
  2. McKesson Amplify provides dedicated funding to support state associations' advocacy efforts and allow them to focus on their important policy work.
  3. Partnerships between McKesson, state associations, and other organizations help engage pharmacists and students, support pharmacists providing services, and strengthen advocacy efforts.

Pharmacy Times

What are the priorities for NASPA for 2024 and beyond?

Krystal Weaver

Our number one priority in 2024 and beyond and before is to support the state pharmacy associations and help them do what they do better. The state associations are absolutely the leading voices at the state level on all things affecting the practice of pharmacy, and the business of pharmacy. Our goal is to focus on providing policy expertise, other resources, association management support, and a venue for state pharmacy associations to learn from each other and learn from partners who are associate members including McKesson and others about what the best practices are and those industry insights that allowed them to be the foremost experts in their states. The goal of all this is to ensure the sustainability of our profession of pharmacy that we love, and to advocate for things like fair reimbursement, expansion of pharmacist scope of practice, and fair payment for the valuable services that they provide for their communities.

Nancy Lyons

Krystal, that's quite a list and that's one of the reasons that I'm really excited about the announcement that McKesson made at ideaShare 2024 about McKesson Amplify — which was a direct way for those states that are doing all that incredible work to apply for funding where McKesson can support the efforts that are already in motion and just raise it up and amplify all those voices.

Krystal Weaver

It's incredible.

Pharmacy Times

What is needed to support the work the state associations are doing?

Krystal Weaver

Programs like McKesson Amplify— well, I say programs but there's really no other like it. Continued financial backing is absolutely critical to allow the state pharmacy associations to focus on the really important advocacy work that they do. These organizations are under resourced, overworked, but really doing what we need to keep the profession of pharmacy strong and sustainable through the future. They also need active memberships from practicing pharmacists, pharmacy owners in all settings, but especially in the community setting where there's so many challenges that we're facing right now. And strong partnerships like what we have with McKesson, which is so valuable on so many different levels. Not just McKesson Amplify as a financial means but also the full force of McKesson as a corporation and their government affairs work their partnerships with community pharmacies and everything they're doing to keep community pharmacy strong.

Pharmacy Times

Are there any new initiatives you are announcing here at McKesson ideaShare?

Nancy Lyons

I already teased McKesson Amplify. But leaning back into the pharmacist providing care, we are really excited about our partnership with the American Pharmacists Association, both in the operation diabetes support, paying it forward for the profession — so to get those students knowing that they need to be active early on in their careers. Then with the American Pharmacists Association foundation and their project impact work, we've smoothed out the process for them to get engaged with Project Impact, providing the services and project impact has figured out a way to pay pharmacists at full reimbursement even while we're waiting for some of these legislative changes. Then the last one is a relaunch of McKesson, Perks, giving all of the members besides the work we do with associations and others, the reason that it's great to be a Health Mart. They can find discounts; they can find easy access to the services that McKesson already provides when their a Health Mart and Health Mart Atlas member.

Pharmacy Times

Tell us how you see the McKesson Amplify program helping to fulfill these needs.

Krystal Weaver

Amplify is going to be a tremendous asset to the state pharmacy associations. The dedicated funding will allow state pharmacy associations to really focus on their advocacy work. Associations do many things — they run meetings, they work to recruit members, they engage members in different ways. All those things, cost money, but a lot of them are aimed at bringing in revenue to support the advocacy work that they do. Advocacy is only a cost center, and it is very expensive to do. But it is the most important part of what state pharmacy associations do. It's the biggest need that we have in the market is to have strong advocates at the state level. So McKesson’s dedicated support will free up the state associations to invest more time and energy into keeping pharmacy strong at the state level.

Pharmacy Times

Is there anything you'd like to add?

Nancy Lyons

Everybody needs to be a member of their state association. Pharmacists, technicians, whomever have a voice to raise up. Then it's also important to be members of the national organizations as well. NCPA is totally focused on the needs of the independent community pharmacy and APHA. Back to that, a call back to our Health Mart perks, members can get a 30% discount off pharmacist memberships, and technicians can join for the everyday $29. Whether it's your money that that you're giving those associations, but hopefully it's your money and your voice and your creativity and ideas to keep the profession going as strong for patients as possible.

Krystal Weaver

And I just like to share a really heartfelt thank you to McKesson and the team that you have for putting together this program. It's going to make such a huge impact on the profession, on our state pharmacy associations that will last well into the future. So, thank you.

Nancy Lyons

I will say on behalf of McKesson, you're welcome. But it's really the work that everyone does, and McKesson is so focused on supporting that.

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