Thursday, February 21, 2013

Realty Biting the Rainbow

Paging Senator Mabin
The Body Politics of Gay Arkansas

Twenty Eight years ago I received a small plaque which was given to me in recognition of my "Outstanding Performance,"for my leadership as President of then Arkansas Gay Rights advocacy group. Actually in 1985 I had not embraced words such as "advocacy" or fully understood my role as an "advocate" because I basically had little to no training. I was thrusted into a position because for one, I was filled with youthful exuberance and believed that I was apart of folks who had my best interest at heart because together we were going to make a difference for our fellow man. What a wonderful feeling that was then despite the valuable lessons I would learn some two and half decades later. Yesterday I had another "dejavu" moment as I participated with colleagues as we testified before a legislative committee concerning therapeutic substitution measure HB 1185.

The proponents propose to allow equivalent substitutions be allowed to patients per a physicians directive as a cost effective threshold. As a concerned drug consumer I am not always too quick to succumb to the "experts" whom feel that doing things without sufficient due diligence including asking "me-the consumer" as to how this might affect my life. Nevertheless the bill sponsored by Senator J. Dismang and Representative Wright passed through the committee due to prior back room dealings. Therein lies the rub as well as somewhat nexus of the problem.

 The LGBTQ community lacks the infrastructure of a cadre of paid administrators, lobbyist, or staffing that would be available to monitor or research matters that impact our community. Its undeniable that special interest group amass funding streams to support the framework of their causes ranging from early childhood education to environmental resources. Missing in action is a formidable apparatus that specifically deals with LGBTQ topics or matters which require coordinated responses. Although we have a valued and precious few whom can be mobilized as needed, this type of effort needs sufficient scaling and build out to be more effective. Consequently such a structure could be more prepared to be reactive to issues therefore resulting in "our" community having an entity that could perhaps at least be consulted or engaged otherwise.

Its seems so surreal that I spoke about "gay rights as human rights" all those years ago, as I struggled to understand how I ended up in such a public role without the necessary capacity building or leadership training that I now take for granted. Looking back I'm amazed at having the temerity to go before legislators, policy makers and power brokers on behalf of the gay community without the necessary tools that are common place among other groups. Yet it was done and fast forward too today and here I am again being the "face" the crowd who has decided that no one will be making decision for or about me without me. Even though its been a wondrous journey thus far, its evident that there's so much more to do  and more infrastructure to be created. Now the $64,000 questions is by whom, when, where and how is going to sustain itself or survive.

CITIZEN ACTION ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Even though HB1185 sailed through committee, it is now on its way to be heard on the Senate floor. COP 24/7 urges our readers, consumers, stakeholders and allies to share your concerns about this bill and its ramifications on end users. This bill is moving quickly in the Arkansas General Assembly,its called An Act to Modify the Definition of Prescription under the Pharmacy Act (also called the “Therapeutic Substitution” bill).  The bill number is House Bill 1185 (HB1185).

If this bill becomes law, it could hurt the health of thousands of patients living with chronic diseases, including HIV/AIDS and several types of cancer, by interfering with prescription medications and people’s relationships with their doctors.

The Therapeutic Substitution bill would let a pharmacist substitute a doctor’s prescription with a “therapeutically equivalent” drug.  This is not giving a generic drug instead of a brand name drug. This is giving a chemically different medicine instead of the medicine prescribed by the doctor. The substituted drug may have different side effects on the patient, interact with other drugs the patient is taking, and could even be less effective than the prescribed drug. This puts patients at risk.

Patients and their doctors should get to decide which medications would be best for the patient. The Therapeutic Substitution bill would let pharmacists make this decision and then tell the doctor afterwards. Pharmacists would have to talk to patients about giving a different medicine, but many patients may not understand what therapeutic substitution means. Call your Senators that you want this bill not to be made law.
You can find your state Senator by entering your address at this link:
 Also contact Phillip Adams, Gov. Beebe’s Health and Human Services Liaison, regarding concerns about HB1185 at 501.313.6187.
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