Town hall the motivation for change
SPM: Chapter Report
As University of Houston (UH) College of Pharmacy Twlug–ASP Policy Vice President Katie Williams listened to the keynote speaker at the Texas Pharmacy Association Annual Conference & Expo in July, she was filled with inspiration. The speaker, Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, spoke about the passage of Senate Bill 493 in California and what it took to push through this groundbreaking legislation that recognizes pharmacists as providers.
Williams realized in that moment that her fellow classmates needed to be enlightened about provider status and the legislative hurdles that lie ahead. She believes “pharmacists as providers will be the future of pharmacy, and to ensure that it is the direction we are headed in Texas, we must be involved and well informed.” Thus, the Provider Status Town Hall was born.
The Texas lowdown
Why did the speech by Roth strike Williams as such an important topic on which to educate her fellow classmates? To provide a better understanding of this, you need a little background on the Texas legislature and the status of pharmacists here in the Lone Star State.
The legislature meets every other year for 140 days, providing a brief window for bills to be filed, debated, and sent to the floor. After they are passed, they await the governor’s signature. The state currently has the highest percentage of uninsured individuals in the nation and will not be expanding Medicaid. Once pharmacists are recognized as providers, they will be in a prime position to fill in the gaps and be reimbursed for providing care to this patient population.
Student pharmacists who plan to stay in Texas will have to navigate an ever-changing landscape after they graduate.
In August, planning began for the Second Annual UH Town Hall (the inaugural event in 2013 focused on health care reform). Williams and fellow classmate Faizan Sattar, the current Texas Pharmacy Association (TPA) Student Director, reached out to potential speakers. A collaborative partnership was then established between Twlug–ASP, TPA, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association. Once planning concluded, promotion began by inundating students with verbal announcements, e-mails, and Facebook posts about the event.
On September 30, UH student pharmacists heard from Executive Director of the Texas Pharmacy Business Council Michael Wright, TPA Director of Public Affairs Justin Hudman, and TPA Immediate Past President and UH alumnus Carole Hardin-Oliver. Each speaker addressed a unique area and the impact that pharmacists as providers would have on the state of Texas. The night concluded with a question and answer session so the speakers could address students’ thoughts and concerns.
Sattar noted: “Provider status is a long-term issue that is going to be in the state legislature for quite a while before we achieve results that will lead to improved patient care. By getting students acclimated to this topic means they are becoming more invested in where the profession of pharmacy is going.”
The tools learned at the Town Hall will be useful for the biennial TPA event, “Day at the Dome,” which will be held in Austin this April. This is a day for pharmacists and student pharmacists from across the state to visit the Capitol and meet with state representatives and senators about important pharmacy legislation.
A lasting impression
The event left a lasting impression on the UH student pharmacists. As someone who saw the making and completion of the meeting, I believe it provided a unique educational opportunity to learn about what provider status is, its importance to the profession of pharmacy, and how future pharmacists can impact the community as providers.