In the News

It’s time to “get the recognition pharmacists have always deserved.”

The difference one person can make in the political processes of our nation was fully evident at the Political Leadership Reception on Friday evening at APhA2015 in San Diego. Held on an outdoor terrace as the sun set over the beautiful San Diego Bay, the reception honored excellence in advocacy by APhA member pharmacists and student pharmacists and roused attendees to keep supporting the provider status movement through their actions and resources.

“I only learned about provider status because pharmacists came to my office and explained it to me,” Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), a Democratic representative from California’s 52nd district, told a crowd of more than 300 attendees. Peters is the newest cosponsor of H.R. 592, the House version of the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act.

“I would have no way to know anything about your job and how it is affected by the local, state, or federal government unless you explain it to me,” Peters said in explaining how he came to understand the potential roles pharmacists can play in the future health care system.

“Send articulate folks [to Capitol Hill], sometimes pharmacists themselves, to explain these kinds of issues,” Peters said. “Keep it up. … Stay active. Help us solve the health care crisis” by developing new ways of delivering pharmacists’ services.

APhA’s top award in this area, the Hubert H. Humphrey Award, went to Minnesota’s Brian J. Isetts, BSPharm, BCPS, FAPhA. A faculty member at the University of Minnesota, Isetts brought greetings on behalf of members of the Humphrey family who continue to live and work in the Gopher State. For more than 30 years, Isetts has worked to build “the medication-use system patients deserve,” and he recalled with attendees “the amazing journey we’ve taken together.” This award recognizes APhA members who have made major contributions in government and legislative service at the local, state, or national level.

Isetts recently served at CMS as a health policy fellow. In this role, he was able to bring pharmacy’s message to the top tiers of staff at the agency as policies were set for medication therapy management and pharmacists’ roles in direct patient care. “Our voices are being heard,” Isetts assured the crowd.

Receiving the Good Government Pharmacist of the Year Award was Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDE, of Tucson, AZ. Leal has continuously worked as an advocate for pharmacists’ direct patient care services. By initiating a petition in 2012, Leal was instrumental in demonstrating the scope and breadth of support for seeking provider status in Congress. This led to formation of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition and the current effort to gain provider status recognition for pharmacists.

Leal thanked the APhA–PAC for the award and said, “The real reward will come when we get provider status.” The Good Government award recognizes an individual pharmacist who actively contributes to the community through his or her involvement in the political process.

Sarah Barden of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was recognized as the Good Government Student Pharmacist of the Year. She was recognized for her passion in getting student pharmacists at VCU engaged in and excited about the legislative process, said emcee Steve C. Firman, BSPharm, MBA, APhA–PAC Board of Governors Chair. By expanding a chapter policy and advocacy forum to a statewide effort and establishing a Capitol Hill Day for VCU students, Barden mobilized her fellow students and was incredibly active in the Virginia Pharmacists Association, enhancing its legislative day with educational offerings and involving other student pharmacists.

In the sixth year of the “Back the PAC” competition, 50 APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists chapters raised more than $18,000 for the APhA–PAC in an effort to build “a brighter future for pharmacy,” Firman told attendees. The competition gets student pharmacists involved in political activity and raises awareness among student pharmacists about the political process. Chapters compete by raising donations from alumni and friends for the PAC.

For the fourth year in a row, the University of Florida raised the most money and received the top prize.

The APhA–ASP chapters at East Tennessee State University, Samford University, University of Iowa, and University of Tennessee rounded out the top five fundraisers for the PAC. With the University of Florida, these five chapters raised almost $7,000.

“We need your voice and your support” to get the two bills now before Congress—H.R. 592 and S. 314—passed into law, Firman said. “Now is our opportunity … to get the recognition pharmacy has always deserved.”