Drug Topics recently sat down with Steve Hoffart, PharmD, owner and PIC at Magnolia Pharmacy north of Houston, to discuss the importance of pharmacists getting involved in advocacy.
Independent pharmacists have consistently been taking on a larger role in the health care space for the past several years. This was increased even further during the COVID-19 pandemic, when community pharmacists quickly expanded their store hours and capabilities to meet the surging health and vaccination needs of their patients.
While the pandemic shone a bright light on the many ways that pharmacies can make major contributions to community health care, ongoing issues with inadequate reimbursements, PBM-imposed DIR fees and patient steering threaten their survival. In order for independent pharmacies to prosper in their expanded roles, it’s extremely important that they advocate for needed reforms on the state and federal levels.
Drug Topics recently sat down with Steve Hoffart, PharmD, owner and PIC at Magnolia Pharmacy, to discuss the importance of independent pharmacists’ involvement in advocacy, why building relationships with elected leaders is key, and how American Pharmacies is leading the way in terms of independent pharmacy advocacy.
Dr. Hoffart has regularly been one of the leading pharmacy advocates in Texas. He serves as the Vice-Chair of the American Pharmacies Board of Directors, has twice been honored with the American Pharmacies’ Advocacy Leadership Award, has testified on multiple occasions in the Texas House and Senate, and is a member of NCPA’s Committee on State Regulation and Legislation.
However, Hoffart was not always interested in the advocacy side of pharmacy. That journey began around 8 years ago when his son told him that he wanted to go to pharmacy school. That engagement triggered an important realization by Steve about how important it is to advocate for the profession and those who are looking to join it.
“That's when I realized, seeing where things are going, [that] it's my job to get involved with advocacy,” Dr. Hoffart said. “Because if I don't do what I can do to protect the profession and make sure he has a great, bright future in front of him, then I've really failed as a pharmacist.”
Through his advocacy efforts, Hoffart has aided American Pharmacies in passing 16 bills in several states throughout the country. These bills have included items such as the prohibition of transaction fees, clawbacks and steering. American Pharmacies also recently joined the federal advocacy arena by hiring a lobbyist in Washington, DC.
Dr. Hoffart credits these successes to the strong relationships he and American Pharmacies have built with legislators. This is one of the most important things a pharmacist can do to be a good advocate for the profession. Hoffart says that going to a fundraiser for a state representative or senator, contributing to a campaign, or even setting an appointment to meet an elected leader are all great ways to start on the advocacy path.
“We are the experts…pharmacy issues are very complicated,” Hoffart said. “[I]f you can get that legislator to have that trust in you over time and let them know that you're the expert, you have so much to offer. [T]hat's [a] great way to kind of move forward in those relationships.”
For pharmacists looking to get started in their advocacy efforts, American Pharmacies provides plenty of tools to help. Leaders in the organization provide key insights to pharmacists around the country on important topics like key legislation and PBM-related litigation. American Pharmacies also has an extensive grassroots advocacy guide that helps pharmacists get started and how to build relationships with legislators.
“You have to get involved,” Hoffart said. “Sitting on the sideline only assures that our conditions are going to get worse. It can feel intimidating…But you have to realize that even though these are legislators that are very powerful and they have a lot of influence, when you meet with them, you are the true expert.”
Click the podcast player above to listen to the full interview with Steve Hoffart now.
This content was made in collaboration with American Pharmacies.