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Directly Speaking
What Keeps You Up at Night?

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President

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I suspect, from personal experience, that anyone’s answer if that question is asked will depend on which time of year it is, which night of the week it is or even how old you are.  I assume it happens to many if not all of you but the frequency and duration probably vary based on age and level of responsibility at home and at work.

 

So what keeps you, our members up at night, and is there something we can do to help you deal with it?  If the answer is money, probably not.  Although our dues are very reasonable and lag far behind many other pharmacy and health care professional organizations in Illinois and across the nation. And our meetings are a bargain!  If you’ve attended a recent Midyear or APhA Annual Meeting, you know exactly what I mean.  I personally, am contemplating attending an association executive meeting in August, and the registration fee for that is $899!

 

If what keeps you up at night is pharmacy practice related, we can help.  In addition to the cutting-edge education that our Educational Affairs Division provides through the Champion webinars and CPRN (Clinical Practice and Research Network) programs and what the Meeting Planning Committees produce for the Spring and Annual Meetings, ICHP provides a variety of opportunities to network with your peers at meetings and online.

 

If it’s not money or practice related problems, what about the expansion of practice or practicing at the top of your license?  ICHP’s Division of Government Affairs works year-in and year-out to guide legislation and regulation that will create a scope of pharmacy practice that matches where today’s education is aiming.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean we’re there yet, but every day that group is pushing closer and closer to where we need to be.

 

Drug pricing has been keeping me from getting my rest lately.  As I see new products that come to market with costs of more than a year’s salary for any pharmacist, let alone someone near the poverty level, I question when and where it will all end?  It looks like it could be soon as Congress and the General Assembly begin taking up drug pricing legislation as a result of these outrageous prices!

 

I also lose sleep over the way health care and pharmacy specifically are paid!  PBM’s seem to have lost their cost-savings focus and crossed over to the dark-side, snagging profits and savings for themselves with much of it coming from the backs of their pharmacist colleagues in the community practice settings!  Initially, PBM’s did a great job of saving employers money on the medication side of the insurance equation.  But now as they cut themselves in for more and more of the rebates they collect while slicing dispensing fees and medication cost reimbursements down to nearly nothing, the pharmacists who run these PBM’s have forgotten what value a pharmacist could bring if they would only pay them for their MTM services!

 

Most importantly to me is the cost of health care!  Whether the Republicans in Congress are successful in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act doesn’t keep me up at night.  Hoping that all of Congress realizes, soon enough, that the entire system is broken and needs more than a simple plan switch, does!  Health care is a benefit every human should receive, at least at a basic level.  And our nation should be able to provide a basic system that provides care as well as any in the world.

 

But every human needs to respect and value that benefit by doing everything in their power to help their own outcomes.  This means eating well balanced healthy meals, exercising, adhering to medication and other therapies, not smoking, and avoiding other risky behaviors.  It also means using the system correctly.  Finding a primary care physician or other provider and not using the emergency rooms for non-emergencies.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure what you do with those who continue to disrespect and misuse the system?  But wouldn’t it be nice if that was our biggest health care problem?

 

It also means we will all have to pay for it – which many individuals will protest.  I’m sure we’ll hear, “Why do I have to pay for someone’s pregnancy when I’m a 60-year old guy?”  But this 60+ year old guy understands why that’s necessary.  Or we’ll hear from the younger generation, “I’m healthy, why do I need to pay for some old guy’s health care?”  If they’re lucky and live right, they will become that old guy or gal!  So none of that will keep me up at night.  Perhaps it’s time to admit that everyone will need to pay for health care for everyone.  Just like we pay for retirement for everyone.  One less thing to keep us up.

 

There are plenty of problems to keep every American up at night, but I’m not sure it’s happening enough.  If it were, we would probably be closer to a reasonable solution.  If that ever happens with health care, we can shift gears and spend our sleeplessness worrying about global warming, running out of fossil fuels  or the day that giant asteroid eventually changes life on earth as we know it!  I’m sorry if I have given you more to keep you up at night, but maybe if we all spent a few more sleepless minutes thinking about it, somebody will actually do something positive about it!


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