Plato, the Greek philosopher and the most famous student of Socrates, once remarked that “one of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Independent pharmacy owners today, not to mention Americans in general, can ill-afford to be governed by fools. But getting involved in politics can be both consuming and complicated. Pharmacy owners have their hands full just providing exceptional service to their patients. Most don’t have time to devote hours to politics as well. That’s where True North Political Solutions comes in.
I had the esteemed privilege of speaking with Ron Lanton III, the owner and CEO of True North. Join me in welcoming him to The Honest Apothecary as we talk about this valuable service he is providing his clients.
1) Ron could you tell us a little about yourself and about your career prior to starting True North Political Solutions?
I started my career in government affairs at age 12. In order to complete a 7th grade history project called “Research Your Hometown”, I decided to interview city officials and videotape historic sites around my hometown of Xenia, Ohio. Later that summer I started volunteering at City Hall where I helped develop policy positions and became the youngest appointed City Commissioner at 16 where I served on the city’s Beatification and Environmental Commission. It was at this point that I knew I would eventually go to law school in order to get the legal understanding for me to go further in government affairs. I then went on to have various rewarding experiences on the state and federal level as well as within corporate America. All these experiences helped me to build the company I have today.
2) How exactly did True North Political solutions begin and where are you located?
For the last seven years, I worked for a pharmaceutical wholesaler. It was here where I created a national government affairs program, served as the company’s exclusive lobbyist and also advocated for the company’s various healthcare customers. I had always wanted my own government affairs firm where I could offer clients proactive solutions for their businesses. After seven years it was time for me to transition to create the company I always wanted. We are now based out of Manchester, New Hampshire.
3) Not everyone is up-to-date on the important political issues related to independent community pharmacy practice. Could you touch on some of the major pieces of legislation you are following as well as any other important topics that are currently relevant for pharmacy?
Currently I am active in issues surrounding pharmacy benefit managers. We are attempting to get Congressional legislation introduced that targets preferred pharmacy networks. I do not believe that it was Congress’ intent with the creation of Medicare Part D that insurance companies could create networks that interfere with patient access to medication. We also understand that the current Congressional climate is difficult to get a lot accomplished. That is why we have turned our attention to state government. On the state level I am working to create additional revenue streams for pharmacies through any willing provider statutes, as well as mandating pharmacy benefit managers pay pharmacies through electronic funds transfers without charging them excessive administrative fees. Of course we are also following the ever changing landscape caused by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
4) So what type of businesses utilize your services and what do you provide them with?
We deal with entities throughout the healthcare supply chain including community pharmacies. Our core services are to lobby, monitor and forecast. Our lobbying side changes, creates or blocks laws for our clients. Our monitoring services help our clients understand current or upcoming laws that will affect them. Our forecasting services seek to see long term trends within the industry so that our clients can make informed business decisions to increase their profits.
5) Can you share with us any examples about how your services have positively influenced certain legislation on behalf of your clients?
One of the best examples I can give is creating an any willing provider statute. Many states don’t have any solid regulation regarding pharmacy benefit managers. Not only did this statute allow pharmacies to get into insurance networks where they couldn’t before, but it also protected pharmacies from abusive audit practices. Statutes like these give other state coalitions a model to follow.
6) On a more casual and personal note, when you aren’t involved in politics, what sorts of hobbies or other interests to you have?
I like to travel. Since moving to New England I have been seeing all of the sites from Portland to Cape Ann. I also like to relax by reading fiction and watching movies.
7) Ron thanks for talking to us here on The Honest Apothecary. How can my readers contact you for more information?
The fastest way for your readers to contact me is by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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