By Bridget Caito, specialty pharmacy 340B analyst, Ascension Michigan Pharmacy and Deb Sopo, R.Ph., MBA, FMPA, pharmacy manager, Ascension Michigan Pharmacy, Warren
Dozens of times a day, nuances come up in the pharmacy that make our job more difficult. Today, it may be another uninsured case that we lost hundreds of dollars on, or a needed drug that is not on formulary. As pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, our roles go beyond making sure our patients receive their medications when they are in our care. We have a responsibility to get involved in matters like: immunizations, medication therapy management (MTM), transparency within pharmacy benefit managers (PBM), MAC pricing, medication safety and patient access to pharmacy services that influence the safety and ease of taking care of patients. This is no easy task, but you are not alone in advocating for key issues with an organization like the Michigan Pharmacists Association (MPA) Political Action Council (PAC).
The MPA PAC was created in 1968 as a voluntary, nonpartisan committee of 527 pharmacy professionals. This group of professionals actively sought to promote good government and good public health policy. Contributions to Pharmacy PAC support legislators who support pharmacy, drive advocacy efforts and facilitate pharmacy participating in notable political events. Pharmacy PAC sponsors annual legislative events that encourage student pharmacists and pharmacy professionals to speak with key legislators and educate them and their staff on issues that are important to our profession. PAC also works to inform MPA members of legislative changes that impact our practice.
Proper funding the Michigan Pharmacy PAC elevates the status of MPA and pharmacy within the state. MPA, in collaboration with the practice sections, works on critical issues like provider status with Medicare, appropriate prescribing of opioids, reimbursement rates, technician product verification, direct and indirect remuneration fees and PBM transparency. Supporting Pharmacy PAC and MPA gives Michigan pharmacists and pharmacy technicians a voice, and of course, there is strength in numbers. In 2018 alone, MPA was involved in over 60 introduced bills. As our advocates, MPA ensures that the bills that effect the pharmacy profession and our patients are addressed.
Advocating on behalf of our profession and patients does not have to be an overwhelming task especially if you support the Michigan Pharmacy PAC and MPA’s Pharmacy Advocacy Response Team (PART). Our profession, by nature, is one that protects and serves, and advocating is an effective way to do just that. Consider following the mission of PART: participate, advocate, respect and teach. Become a member of PART by signing up today at www.MichiganPharmacists.org/advocacy/part.
If you want to see pharmacy friendly legislation, what are you willing to do to make it happen? Changes will not happen without our active participation and advocacy. Call or write your local legislators. Find out what your local legislators stand for, and how they vote on the topics that matter to us. Share with them what needs to change and why. If you want a guide on what to cover and how to phrase it, check the MPA’s website Advocacy page at www.MichiganPharmacists.org/advocacy. It contains talking points for a fair number of current issues.
Advocate with our patients. Cultivate a respectful atmosphere where you can educate and communicate to them what is important in terms of good public health policy and what is good for their care. How many times have we helped patients understand because they were unaware of their own insurance policies? Chances are they are also unaware of legislation that impacts pharmacy, and ultimately themselves.
Spreading knowledge will create a momentum to get issues noticed. Voice your opinions. Be heard! Amplify your voice by supporting Michigan Pharmacy PAC. MPA will make the connections for you, provide resources and inform you of legislative events and educational opportunities. Advocacy can take shape in many different forms and many times without ever leaving the pharmacy. We can create change if we all do our small PART.