Students and Faculty Advocate for Pharmacists at Missouri Legislative Day
Published on 12 April 2018
More than 290 St. Louis College of Pharmacy students and faculty members traveled to the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City on March 28, to advocate on behalf of the pharmacy profession during Legislative Day 2018.
Legislative day is organized annually by the Missouri Pharmacy Association (MPA) to provide an opportunity for industry professionals to join together as “one voice” united in the goal of determining the most effective way to protect the future of the pharmacy profession.
A record number of students from the College attended, along with other pharmacy students, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from across the state. With more than 500 total participants, this year’s event was the largest Legislative Day to date.
“It was pretty profound to have so many pharmacists in one place working toward a unified goal,” said Brian Timmer, P3 student and president of the College’s student chapter of MPA. “We have done this for so long that legislators only need to see our white coats to know exactly what is going on.”
Participants arrived early in the morning to attend educational sessions with legislators focused on health care policy. Attendees and legislators, some of whom were also pharmacists, discussed the specific bills that they and the MPA are working on. Key legislation currently on the docket is centered on immunization rights, the provider tax, the impact of third parties, drug take-back programs and the restriction of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).
During the afternoon session, students met with legislators to convey the pharmacists’ perspective and discuss the effects of various health care policies on patients. Following the event, many students contacted legislators from their hometowns to speak with them about issues directly affecting those areas.
“Legislative Day is an opportunity for pharmacists to communicate their passions and how these provisions impact their ability to treat and help their patients,” noted Ron Fitzwater, chief executive officer of MPA. “Impact is made by personal interaction and conveying what issues are important to pharmacy and the profession and how these issues affect the pharmacist’s ability operate within the profession.”
Students prepared for the event during a Missouri Legislative Day Preview presentation on March 13 at the College. Timmer and Fitzwater presented key instructions for the day, an overview of important legislation and tips for the one-on-one meetings with legislators.
“Laws are passed and regulations are made today that will directly affect our lives and how we work as pharmacists,” said Timmer. “It is important to voice our opinion and influence what we can, in the way we think is best, because our input will affect the way pharmacists practice for years to come.”