Independent pharmacists have emerged as crucial healthcare providers in recent years, with their role further amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. These community pharmacists extended their hours and expanded their services to meet the growing demands for healthcare and vaccinations. Although the pandemic highlighted the significant contributions pharmacies can make to community health, ongoing challenges such as inadequate reimbursements, pharmacy benefit manager (PBM)-imposed direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees, and patient steering threaten the survival of independent pharmacies. To thrive in their expanded roles, independent pharmacists must advocate for reforms at both the state and federal levels.
Steve Hoffart, PharmD, owner and pharmacist-in-charge at Magnolia Pharmacy, has been at the forefront of advocating for pharmacy rights in Texas. As the Vice-Chair of the American Pharmacies Board of Directors and a recipient of the American Pharmacies’ Advocacy Leadership Award, Dr. Hoffart has actively testified in the Texas House and Senate. His journey into advocacy commenced when his son expressed interest in attending pharmacy school, prompting him to realize the importance of safeguarding the profession’s future.
Through his efforts, Dr. Hoffart and American Pharmacies have successfully championed the passage of 16 bills across various states. These legislative victories have addressed issues such as transaction fees, clawbacks, and steering. Furthermore, American Pharmacies has expanded its advocacy efforts to the federal level by hiring a lobbyist in Washington, DC. Dr. Hoffart attributes these accomplishments to the strong relationships he and American Pharmacies have cultivated with legislators. Building trust and demonstrating expertise are key aspects of effective advocacy.
For pharmacists eager to embark on their advocacy journey, American Pharmacies offers an array of resources. They provide valuable insights on critical legislative matters and PBM-related litigation. Additionally, American Pharmacies has developed an extensive grassroots advocacy guide to assist pharmacists in building relationships with lawmakers and getting started in their advocacy efforts.
Dr. Hoffart emphasizes the urgency of pharmacist involvement, highlighting that remaining on the sidelines will only exacerbate existing challenges. While engaging with legislators may seem daunting, pharmacists must recognize that they are the true experts in pharmacy issues. By actively participating in advocacy, they can contribute to positive change and ensure a brighter future for the profession.
Source: [American Pharmacists](https://www.americanpharmacies.com/)