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A local pharmacist took part in the federal government process this month, traveling to Washington, D.C., with a group of his peers to urge Congress and the Obama administration to remember community pharmacies when they set to work developing a federal health-care reform plan.
Bob Yowler of Morgan’s Drug Store in Bedford traveled to the nation’s capital May 11-13 for the National Community Pharmacists Association conference.
He, as well as other conference participants, met with members of Congress and Obama officials on topics crucial to community pharmacies.
“We just want a level playing field, where requirements are in line with the type of business being run,” he said.
According to Yowler and his staff, there are 23,000 independent pharmacies in the United States. These stores fill nearly half of the nation’s medication prescriptions.
The loss of these pharmacies due to overregulation and heavy unfunded mandates would be crippling to counties across the country, like Trimble, where they are the only pharmacy.
Eighty-seven percent of these pharmacies are in danger of closing because of the burden placed on them, said Carolyn Barnes, office manager at Morgan Drug Store. These pharmacies are financially unable to implement the requirements that large retailers such as Walmart can, she explained.
Yowler’s pharmacy is currently undergoing the time-consuming process of Medicare accreditation. This will allow his pharmacy and staff to continue providing for, not only those in the community who are covered by Medicare and those whose insurance policies demand the accreditation standards, but they will also be able to provide durable medical equipment like wheelchairs, walkers and diabetes testing equipment.
The deadline for accreditation is September.
By visiting Washington, Yowler said he hopes he has helped let officials know that “independent community pharmacies play a critical role in keeping Americans healthy, but often Washington enacts policies that hurt our businesses and threaten patients’ access to our services.”