May 20, 2015
Unprecedented Support Among Pharmacists for Provider Status Legislation
Washington, D.C.—In the largest grassroots advocacy push recorded in the 163-year history of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), more than 20,000 letters and emails were sent by pharmacists and pharmacy students to Congress in a 3-month period this year to urge support for provider status legislation.
As a first step in pharmacists’ achieving provider status at the federal level, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act was introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate in January. As of mid-May, the bills had 113 bipartisan cosponsors in the House bill and 13 in the Senate.
“The support our profession is receiving from state and federal policymakers is remarkable,” said Thomas E. Menighan, APhA executive vice president and CEO. “We owe that growing recognition not only to the advocacy efforts by pharmacists across the country but due to the quality care they provide.”
If the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act becomes law, pharmacists would be able to offer critical services to Medicare patients living in communities designated as “medically underserved,” including medication management, chronic disease management, and preventative screenings. The bill has wide support among pharmacists and their associations.
“I am proud to see so many pharmacists helping set the course for the future of their profession,” Menighan added.
It might not all be smooth sailing, however. In a commentary published recently in the Journal of the American Pharmacy Association, Patrick C. Harper, PharmD, notes that the current political climate may be favorable to the bills in Congress but adds that “established legislative precedents suggest that parts of H.R. 592/S. 314, specifically those regarding compensation mechanisms, may require negotiated amendment to improve their chances of success.”
In a commentary, Harper explains that the effort to achieve federal provider status for pharmacists would amend the Social Security Act to recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers in sections of Medicare Part B that specify coverage and reimbursement. As such, he writes, “This action has budgetary implications owing to the compensation that would accrue to pharmacists caring for Medicare beneficiaries.”
At the same time, Harper notes, “The current primary care provider shortage poses a significant threat to public health in the United States,” adding, “Passage of these bills into law could improve public health by sustainably increasing access to pharmacists’ patient care services in medically underserved areas.”
Pharmacists can get more information about this legislation as well as campaign materials and a sample letter to send to Congress at PharmacistsProvideCare.com.
|U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect