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Legislators discuss bipartisan healthcare policies at pharmacy school forum

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Photo courtesy of UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy/Danny Alexander.

Sen. Gale Adcock (D-Wake) and Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Montgomery, Stanly) met on Thursday to discuss bipartisan partnerships in healthcare during a UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy forum. 

The event provided an opportunity for pharmacy and nursing students to collaborate in addressing issues in healthcare. Adcock, who has a background in nursing, and Sasser, a pharmacist, spoke about making medical issues a priority for the North Carolina legislature.

The meeting urged individuals working in healthcare to become involved in the process of medical policy creation. Adcock called for students and faculty to "un-silo" themselves to advocate for what they need to see in their fields. 

"We have common goals," Sasser said. "Our major common goal should be the same thing with the pharmacists and nurses in this room — that’s looking after patients."

One of the common goals that Sasser spoke about during the event was the Collaborative Practice bill, which would decrease barriers and restrictions on the amount of control pharmacists currently have in the field. He also spoke in favor of the SAVE Act — a policy that intends to change healthcare by "modernizing nursing regulations." 

Adcock said she and Sasser have a bipartisan respect for each other that "goes beyond the professional and into the personal." While they don’t agree on everything, she said, their political differences don't interfere with their relationship because they share some common ground.

Sasser said that together, he and Adcock helped pass Medicaid expansion in North Carolina, which gave over 600,000 working adults between ages 18 to 64 access to Medicaid.

Third-year pharmacy student Caroline Eason said she was "optimistic" about hearing both of the representatives speak. 

"Rep. Sasser does a lot. Taking the parties out of it, he is fighting for fair reimbursement to keep pharmacies in business and alive," she said. "At the end of the day, it will result in lower patient copays and — hopefully — more affordable healthcare." 

Both speakers said there is a shortage of healthcare perspectives in the legislature. Sasser said he is the first pharmacist to hold a seat in approximately four years, while Adcock said she is one of four legislators in the N.C. General Assembly with a nursing background. 

Both Sasser and Adcock also spoke about the importance of unpolarized unity. Adcock said it’s important for people to work together not only in healthcare but in the legislature. 

"We are firm believers that a rising tide lifts all boats," Adcock said. "We’re not trying to pick winners and losers."

When Adcock emphasized the importance of being persistent with lawmakers to be heard, she compared informing legislators of concerns with caring for a patient.

"It's the combination of multiple conversations that moves the needle on what happens with your individual patient. It’s exactly the same model with policymakers," she said. "They have to hear from you more than once."

Adcock said it is important for those working in the healthcare profession to "influence" legislators by coming to them with real-life experiences, so that they can see the "human side" and elicit governmental change. 

"When you walk into our offices with a great little fact sheet that has nothing but numbers on it, it's very hard to remember," Adcock said. "When you tell a story that illustrates the problem that those numbers come from, you not only just got a friend, but you got somebody who can remember it."

For students who are unsure about becoming involved in politics, Adcock offered some advice.

 "Don’t be afraid to get into this space because of what you think it looks like," she said. "There is a lot of goodness, actually, in what we do and how we do it."

@isabellahopkinz

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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