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NACDS chairman: There's 'no substitute' for engagement
April 23rd, 2012
PALM BEACH, Fla. – As National Association of Chain Drug Stores chairman Bob Loeffler sees it, the record-breaking participation in this year's NACDS RxImpact Day on Capitol Hill shows the effect that proactive member engagement can have.
H-E-B's Bob Loeffler, chairman of NACDS.
The H-E-B executive, speaking Sunday during a business program at the NACDS Annual Meeting here, and finishing his one-year term as NACDS chairman, noted that RxImpact Day brought pharmacy advocates from 41 states to Washington, D.C., in March, and included more than 350 congressional meetings and visits with 86% of senators and representatives on key health care committees — up from the 275 meetings, including with 70% of health care committee members, from the 2011 event.
"Charles Butt, the founder of H-E-B, taught me that most of the times he got into trouble and thought he didn't make the right decision was because he 'didn't go' — that is, he didn't go to where the problem was. If there was a store a couple hundred miles away that needed some help, he said it was best to go out there and see what was going on firsthand, rather than just using the facts readily at hand to make the decision," Loeffler said.
"Whether you call what is going on in Washington, D.C., a problem or an opportunity, Charles Butt's advice applies. There is no substitute for going and meeting with legislators face to face, so I made it a priority to get as many of you as possible to the NACDS fly-in."
Loeffler call on NACDS chain members have not participated in the event to do so and urged all member pharmacy chains also to engage in other grassroots advocacy activities.
"I ask that you commit to using at least one additional service of what I will call the NACDS RxImpact brand," he said.
"Pharmacy visits can help educate them about why our pharmacies need adequate compensation in order to survive and to demonstrate why medication therapy management [MTM] is such a life-saving practice for patients and such a money-saving tool for the government," Loeffler explained. "The RxImpact program also involves training sessions with grassroots experts to help your teams get involved. In this election year, there also is NACDS RxImpact Votes. That component provides resources and motivation to participate in the electoral process, from getting out to vote to volunteering on campaigns."
Loeffler also detailed continued momentum and described opportunities for further success across the three priority areas of
NACDS is building momentum and finding opportunities in the areas of government advocacy; telling the story of community pharmacy; and fostering business community and solutions, such as through NACDS meetings, according to Loeffler. MTM, in particular, is gaining traction through NACDS' efforts, he pointed out.
"The truth is that funding for MTM will not just one day rain down from above. It's going to take a methodical approach," Loeffler said. "That's what we are seeing with Medicare Part D, which of course is implemented by private plans. We are hearing more and more about how the private plans are learning from their experiences with MTM in Part D, and then expanding these services to their entire book of business because they see the benefits. The Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans in Maryland stand out as examples in this area.
"We know that face-to-face counseling makes a real positive difference, and other decision-makers are figuring that out as well. So I encourage NACDS to keep pushing," he added.
Loeffler also stressed the importance NACDS' government advocacy efforts in what he dubbed the "three legs of the NACDS public policy stool" — Medicare, Medicaid and pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) issues — and cited the association's continued work on the average manufacturer price (AMP) Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement issue, as well as the success of NACDS and allies in thwarting $289 million in pharmacy cuts per year in California's Medi-Cal program.
"Your association has adapted, refined and improved to confront ever-steeper challenges and to pursue ever more grand opportunities," Loeffler said. "Yet, despite our progress, I keep coming back to what I consider my biggest takeaway from seeing NACDS from the chairman's seat, and that is the realization that the work of NACDS will never be done. For every feat we accomplish, another will call our name. Understanding that, and answering the call, defines any great organization."