With health-reform bill passage, NACDS hails ‘impact’ of March lobbying push

Marion Berry, D-Ark., stands with NACDS president Steve Anderson at the second annual RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill.

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WASHINGTON —With coordination and leadership from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, some 250 pharmacy leaders and advocates staged an intensive, high-profile lobbying drive with members of Congress on the eve of the historic health-reform vote in Congress in March. Buoyed by the success of the second annual NACDS RxImpact Day and its continuing aftermath, industry leaders already are planning a similar event for next year.

The two-day event on Capitol Hill concluded March 11, and generated more than 220 face-to-face meetings between pharmacy leaders and House and Senate lawmakers. RxImpact Day coincided with a written lobbying campaign that generated some 1,500 letters from NACDS members and other pharmacy advocates to federal legislators within a week after the Capitol Hill event.

The campaign’s goal was to deliver “a powerful message about the link between pharmacy services and the cost savings and health improvements that result when patients take their medications as prescribed,” NACDS noted. This year saw a dramatic jump in the number of attendees representing community pharmacy, up 67% from 2009, NACDS reported, with a 33% increase in the number of states represented—36, compared with 27 states in 2009. A total of 25 state pharmacy associations also were represented, and the number of pharmacy school representatives descending on Capitol Hill expanded from just two in 2009 to 16 this year.

Participants directly engaged with at least 67 senators and 153 members of the House of Representatives, including 130 Democrats, 88 Republicans and two Independents. Among the lawmakers who met with pharmacy representatives were 70% of those members of Congress serving on committees with healthcare jurisdiction, including 18 of the 23 members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, 43 of the 59 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and 24 of the 41 members of the House Ways and Means Committee. RxImpact Day participants also met with 16 of the 23 members of the Senate Finance Committee.

The pharmacy leaders who descended on the Capitol brought a message of “pharmacy’s ability to help reduce the estimated $290 billion in annual costs that result from failure to take medications as prescribed,” NACDS said. Pharmacy advocates also urged lawmakers to support policies that now have become law following President Obama’s signing of the health-reform bill, including a provision to advance and standardize the delivery of medication therapy management services to patients—and establish compensation standards for those services—and a legislative fix to what pharmacy advocates asserted is an unfair reimbursement policy for generic drugs dispensed under Medicaid.

It was a message that powerfully resonated against the backdrop of the health-reform vote and passage of the landmark reform bill signed into law March 23. Plans already are under way for the 2011 NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill, which will be held March 9 to 10, 2011, in Washington.

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