ASHP Takes Pharmacy Issues to Capitol Hill
BETHESDA, Md. Members of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) recently spent time talking to their legislators and congressional staffers about issues that impact health-system pharmacy practice, as part of the Societys Legislative Day activities. The annual event gives health-system pharmacists the opportunity to discuss the impact pharmacists can have on the safety and efficiency of the medication-use process.
A stirring address by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) during a breakfast meeting kicked off the days activities. Wyden gave a forecast of the outcome of several legislative proposals, including a Medicare outpatient prescription benefit and the Pain Relief Promotion Act. He congratulated the members on their advocacy efforts and noted the timeliness of their visits. "You are here at a critical time to get across the message that you want to be an advocate for patients," he said.
Eighty members, including representatives to the Societys policy-recommending Councils and Board of Directors, participated in the advocacy efforts, visiting the offices of more than 100 legislators, including those who serve on key committees that deal with issues related to pharmacy, such as the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees and the House Ways and Means and Commerce committees. Members reinforced the Societys position on items coming up for a Congressional vote, including fiscal relief for hospitals under the Balanced Budget Act, the implications of drug reimportation, the potential impact of pain relief legislation, and the need to fund a national center on patient safety. A key message shared was the need to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the patient care services of pharmacists.
"This was an incredibly valuable experience," remarked Lourdes Cuellar, M.S., R.Ph., director of pharmacy and ancillary services at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR ) in Houston. "I believe that our presence will go a long way to help people in a position to influence policy understand what those decisions mean for me as a practitioner and for the patients I serve."
ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP, which has a long history of medication error prevention efforts, believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medicines. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their delivery of pharmaceutical care, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs.