July 15, 2014, Arlington, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) today put forward pharmacy-specific solutions as the Senate Finance Committee conducted a hearing on “Chronic Illness: Addressing Patients’ Unmet Needs.”
In a written statement, NACDS reaffirmed its support for the bipartisan “Better Care, Lower Cost Act,” which would implement the use of Better Care Programs (BCPs) to provide fully-integrated medical care for people with chronic diseases. The Senate bill (S. 1932) is sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). A House of Representatives companion bill is championed by Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Peter Welch (D-VT).
“We are pleased that the legislation specifically recognizes the contributions provided by pharmacists to improve care to patients with chronic conditions,” NACDS wrote.
“Through personal interactions with patients, face-to-face consultations, and convenient access to preventive care services, local pharmacists are helping to shape the healthcare delivery system of tomorrow—in partnership with doctors, nurses, and others.”
NACDS emphasized the education and training of pharmacists, saying, “Specifically, community pharmacists are trained and educated to provide comprehensive chronic medication management, health screenings, preventative care, and pharmacogenomics counseling; order and interpret lab tests; initiate and modify medication regimens; provide rapid diagnostic testing (e.g. flu, strep and others); perform physical assessments; and provide immunizations and health and wellness care.”
The statement also noted the importance of enhancing the eligibility for medication therapy management services, and of formally recognizing pharmacists as healthcare providers in selected government programs.
NACDS supports the “Medication Therapy Management Empowerment Act” (S. 557 and H.R. 1024), which would expand access to MTM services for senior citizens enrolled in the Medicare program. NACDS also supports legislation to recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers in Medicare Part B (H.R. 4190) — and make available to underserved populations services that are able to be provided by pharmacists according to state laws.
“Since community pharmacists have the proven ability to provide services that lead to better clinical outcomes and lower healthcare costs, allowing them to practice up to their full extent will prove beneficial for all patients, including those suffering from chronic illnesses. Increasing access to community pharmacists will improve health and reduce overall healthcare spending by reduced complications that lead to increased use of expensive medical services and hospitalizations,” wrote NACDS in summarizing its statement to the Senate Finance Committee.