In recent years, local pharmacist and business owner, Dr. Benjamin McNabb, and his wife and business partner, Heather; have made regular trips to the state capital in Austin, TX and to Washington, D.C. to fight for better healthcare for their patients back in Eastland County. They also participated in and helped organize the 2017 and 2018 NCPA Congressional Pharmacist Fly-ins, in which a group of fellow Texas pharmacists went to Washing, D.C. to speak with elected officials about the issues affecting their patients.
DIR fees, closed network contracts, preferred copay status, and mail orders were just a few of the issues that were discussed during their meetings with legislators. “We need to make sure that our legislators understand the challenges local pharmacies and healthcare professionals face while trying to service their community. Most individuals living in rural America need a lot more help than a postman coming by their mailbox, so issues like provider status have to be made top of mind,” stated Dr. McNabb. “Drug pricing is another reason why I decided to get more involved,” he continued. “President Trump is talking about it. Bernie Sanders is talking about it. You couldn’t have two more opposite people talking about drug pricing, so obviously both parties are concerned with how that affects the average person. In my opinion, it’s a nonpartisan issue, and we as pharmacists have valuable insight on what can be done to lower drug prices, especially regarding PBMs.”
While planning for the NCPA Fly-in, Dr. McNabb and his wife soon realized that setting up key meetings, like the one held with Senator Ted Cruz, are not easy tasks to accomplish. “My wife [Heather] called Ted Cruz’s office at least five times trying to get that meeting, and then they finally set it up,” said Dr. McNabb. “It’s that persistence that makes a difference. Sending letters and emails to your representatives is great, but I think the phone calls and the office visits are even more impactful. People notice when you’ve taken the time to go to D.C. or your state capitol.”
Ben was honored to be an advocate for his patients at the NCPA Fly-in. It was not only an opportunity to raise awareness of important issues on their behalf, but it was also a learning experience that will help him be even more effective in his efforts moving forward. He was able to gain a better understanding of how Washington works firsthand, get tips from veteran pharmacists on how to engage his congressmen, network with people who share his values, and build meaningful relationships that will benefit his community in the long run.
“It was a really great experience that inspired us to continue doing more for our patients,” said McNabb. “We all want to go the extra mile to make sure healthcare is distributed in a way that’s going to help people on a deeper level. Because ultimately that’s what really matters. It’s about the lives you change.”