October Volunteer Spotlight: Tony Sowry

For our October Volunteer Spotlight, we are recognizing Tony Sowry of Mill Valley, California.

Tony has volunteered with NPAF for three years and is a member of the NPAF volunteer advisory group as well as a representative on an independent appraisal committee for the Institute of Clinical and Economical Review (ICER) representing the patient perspective. Learn more about Tony’s advocacy below and how he helps Californians enroll in Medicare.

Describe the advocacy work that you’re doing in your community and what motivated you to start.

In addition to my work for NPAF, I volunteer in California as a Medicare counselor for the Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) (cahealthadvocates.org). HICAP provides one-on-one, free, unbiased help and advises on all matters Medicare, for many thousands of clients every year. I also serve on one of ICER’s independent appraisal committees (www.icer.org), which review the cost effectiveness of new medical treatments that are being introduced.

Prior to taking on my volunteering roles, I enjoyed a long career in international maritime shipping and on retiring, I wanted to find a way of using my energy and experience to help others. Healthcare was a natural choice as I have had a long-lasting interest in the subject, covering the spectrum from one-on-one counseling to advocating for better policies for patients.

More specifically, I was prompted to get involved after experiencing how bewildering it is to get started with Medicare when I turned 65. As I struggled to understand all the complexities and choices that were involved in Medicare, I thought there must be thousands of people who could use some help with their own Medicare decisions. So I signed up to volunteer for NPAF and as a counselor for HICAP. After a 6 month training at HICAP, I was able to start helping others in this way. By the way, NPAF has just released its own really good Medicare Guide, which I highly recommend for those in the process of getting started with Medicare.

What advice would you give to other volunteers who would like to do something similar?

Think of things that you are passionate about. In these, there will be multiple different ways you can volunteer and help to make a difference.

Since you’ve been a volunteer with NPAF, what are the three things you are most proud of?

I have enjoyed learning more and more about health care in the US and also overseas. We face some monumental choices right now and NPAF’s voice is so important.

I was very pleased to be invited by NPAF to attend their Patient Congress in Washington in September 2019, during which time I had the chance to visit the congressional offices of my local Senators and Congressman to spread the word about NPAF.

I was honored to be asked by NPAF to be one of their three representatives at ICER.  ICER is very influential in assessing drug pricing and value. It acts  independently and takes into account patient group interests as well as societal interests. It is great that NPAF has a seat at this very important table.


Tony Sowry is a NPAF volunteer and resident of California.

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