Pharmacist Provider Status in Spotlight at APhA Annual Meeting

Daniel Weiss, Senior Editor
Published Online: Monday, April 7, 2014
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A number of speakers at the American Pharmacists Association 2014 Annual Meeting in Orlando emphasized the importance of winning provider status for pharmacists.

The ongoing campaign to win health care provider status for pharmacists was a recurring topic at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) 2014 Annual Meeting, held in Orlando, Florida, from March 28-31. With a bill having been introduced into Congress just weeks before that would recognize state-licensed pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare Part B in underserved communities, speakers at the meeting evinced a sense of progress, but emphasized the importance of continuing to pursue provider status on a number of different fronts.
 
As part of the keynote speech during the meeting’s second general session, on March 30, APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, FAPhA, argued that pharmacists are “gaining the momentum” in their pursuit of provider status and urged them to push for recognition on multiple levels: from federal and state programs and from private payers. “None of them is a slam dunk,” he noted. Menighan pointed out that pharmacists (280,000 nationwide) are vastly outnumbered by nurses (3 million) and physicians (1 million), so pharmacists need to be united in order to attain results.
 
In his speech during the second general session, APhA President-elect Matthew C. Osterhaus, BSPharm, FASCP, FAPhA, urged attendees to focus on why attaining provider status is important for improving patient care. “Every constituent, inside and outside the pharmacy family, needs to know why provider status is so important for our patients,” he said. “We are driven by a purpose, a cause, a belief that we can impact our patients and the health care system by improving outcomes.”
 
The meeting featured a number of other sessions focused on provider status, including a “provider status 101” session on March 28, a session on accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes on March 29, and one on efforts to win provider status from federal, state, and private payers on March 31.
 
During the March 28 session, APhA Senior Vice President of Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs Stacie Maass, PharmD, JD, urged pharmacists to constantly spread the word on the role they play in the health care system to complement the advocacy efforts of pharmacy associations. “Policy makers don’t realize all that pharmacists can do,” she said. “We need to talk about specifics of what do you do with your patients every day.”
 
During the same session, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations Director of Policy and State Relations Krystalyn Weaver, PharmD, noted that winning provider status on the federal level would make it easier to do so on the state level, but that the campaign should nonetheless be pursued on both levels at once. “[I]f we can’t get federal provider status in 2014, in the meantime, we need to get patients access to these services” through state-level efforts, Dr. Weaver argued. “If your patients understand the services you could provide, they can be strong advocates for us.”

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