As the legislative sessions continue in many states this March, new bills continue to be introduced, existing bills wend their way through the process and special interest lobbyists are busy chatting up the legislators to
- guide their bill to passage,
- deny a bill any chance of passage, or
- amend a bill to be palatable to their special interest group.
Recently a relatively simple bill was introduced in Colorado to further support pharmacists status as healthcare providers by allowing pharmacists to practice in collaboration with physicians. To the average consumer on the street, the obvious response is “who could possibly object? I want my pharmacist and physician working together.”
Well, let’s think about this. (And maybe this is where you and your association may want to solicit expert lobbyist advice and guidance. )
I might object if
- I’m a legislator and my constituents have been inundating me with calls about healthcare and limited access to their physicians. How will this collaborative practice influence their access to their physician? Will collaboration take physician face-time away from my constituent patients?
- I’m a physician or physician assistance and I view the collaboration as a way for pharmacists to infringe on my territory. Therefore, in comes the medical society lobbyists asking a legislative committee to amend the bill protecting their turf.
- I’m an insurer. Does this collaboration add expense to my bottom-line? Maybe I’m not thinking about how the collaboration would aid my customer (the patients) and am just balancing my books. The insurance lobby is one of the strongest in our state and is a force to be reckoned with.
- I’m a lawyer representing physicians, insurers or even pharmacists. How would the collaboration affect potential lawsuits? How could it affect my income?
- I’m a pharmacist, and even though there is no mandate to enter into collaborative agreements, I may be forced to do so by my employer, making it harder to juggle the already added demands of providing immunizations along with filling prescriptions and taking care of the cash register and drive up window. Maybe I’d prefer the bill have more teeth, with some mandate on PBMs or insurers for payment or participation. So maybe it feels like a waste of time and resources (association funds) for minimal gain in support of the profession.
Those are just a few examples of who could object. As amendments are added, additional lobbyists from each special interest will pile on. Legislators will be balancing input from lobbyists who object to the original bill, some who support the original, many who support it if certain amendments are upheld, and others who reject the bill if amendments aren’t excluded.
The cartoon is humorous because of the truth underlying the situation. With multitudes of differing opinions from the numerous special interests, the legislators will naturally “do”and repeat something heard from at least one of those representing lobbyists. And in all likelihood, include at least one comment from someone who objected.
Time to contact your favorite lobbyist, they’re generally at (or very near) the state house day in and day out. Give them some additional information to pass on to the legislators – whether you object or not.