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General Session: James Kenney and a New Look for AMCP

Image courtesy of AMCP

Attendees gathered in the main ballroom for the AMCP Managed Care & Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting 2019 general session where Susan Cantrell, RPh, CAE, CEO of AMCP, swore in the new members of the board and greeted new president, James Kenney, RPh, MBA, to the stage. 

Mr Kenney is founder and president of JTKENNEY, LLC, a managed care consulting practice as well as manager of specialty and pharmacy contracts at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and a faculty preceptor for the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences.

“This is truly an honor for me to serve as President of AMCP. I have been a member for 30 years as evidenced by my member number of 51,” said Mr Kenney. “I joined AMCP as a charter member when the pharmacy benefit was evolving, and prescription copays were $3 to $5, and I knew there was a need for a professional organization that represented the interests and challenges associated with the ambulatory portion of pharmaceutical care delivery.”

A time many of those in health care can barely remember, as soaring drug prices continue to be a debate in Washington. Many of the sessions at the 2019 meeting focused on legislative battles and jargon that are constantly evolving. 

“When I first joined, the motive was simple: AMCP provided a forum where health care professionals could exchange ideas, network, obtain professional education, and explore common interests, said Mr Kenney. “We are facing a time of unprecedented change that includes new models for health care. Now, more than ever the perspective of the managed care pharmacy professional is essential if we are to work together to identify solutions that help address the cost of medications and therapies.”

Mr Kenney touched on the shift to value-based  care over fee-for-service, an extremely prevalent topic in managed care today. He emphasized the importance of providing products and services that improve patient outcomes while lowering costs. He also discussed the many emerging therapies that come with the development and innovation of technology. 

“We’re seeing a wide expansion of generic drug offerings. We’re also going to see an explosion in terms of gene therapies, digital therapeutics, and other innovative new therapies,” Mr Kenney continued. “These emerging opportunities are going to require that we work across the health care sector. Tools that AMCP has helped develop, such as the pharmaceutical information exchange, are essential in helping us move toward a value-based care model.”

As is typical, for real change to happen collaboration is key; and in this case, that means finding support in Washington and with the powers that be to ensure positive, effective change is implemented. However, Mr Kenney also mentioned that it is important that the government not try to completely regulate and legislate the health care arena so much so that it stifles innovation, as well as douse any financial opportunity. 

“We need legislative relief to allow for pharmaceutical information exchange and the further development of outcomes-based contracts in the market,” said Mr Kenney.

He recalled a past annual formulary review meeting where he fought to keep a very minimally used epilepsy medication on the formulary. Despite always being seen as “the money guy,” Mr Kenny stressed that his first and foremost commitment will always be the patient. 

“We often hear, ‘It’s always about the money.’ At the end of the day, there’s a patient who is impacted by the decisions that we make,” explained Mr Kenney. “We must work together to develop the right path that aligns the interests of all parties involved—the health care providers, benefit managers, and the pharmaceutical industry.”

Mr Kenney took a moment to look over the new AMCP logo revealed at the conference. “The hexagonal shape—which all of us in pharmacy know—is a fundamental unit in organic chemistry” that is also a simple reminder of the simplicity and complex nature of health care.

The new AMCP tagline, “Optimizing medicine. Improving lives” was also introduced during the general session. Mr Kenny commented, “While we’re all committed to improving overall health care, our efforts are grounded in a collective commitment to the health and well-being of the individual patient. —Edan Stanley

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