Assessing State, Federal Legislation Alignment With Expansion of Pharmacist’s Role on Care Team

Tracy Russell, senior director, State Government Affairs at CoverMyMeds, discusses her presentation at Asembia Summit 2022 on legislation aligned with the movement to expand the pharmacist’s role on the care team.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Tracy Russell, senior director, State Government Affairs at CoverMyMeds, on her presentation at Asembia Summit 2022 titled Legislation Affecting the Future of Specialty Pharmacies: From the State to Federal Level.

Question: How has legislation aligned with the movement to expand the pharmacist’s role on the care team, and are those alignments here to stay?

Tracy Russell: We saw during the pandemic that pharmacists were a driving force to get folks vaccinated, and that helped pass legislation to codify a lot of the expanded pharmacists’ role in the health care team. As of this month, there are about 35 states that have introduced bills to expand pharmacy scope of practice and clinical services. States are proposing policies that expand the role of pharmacy, particularly as it relates to increasing the pharmacist ability to administer immunizations and vaccines. In addition to those vaccines and immunizations authority, we're seeing state legislators proposed measures that ensure that medical plans reimburse pharmacists for their services, which is important. Several states have introduced legislation that permit CLIA waiver testing that allows pharmacists to enter into the collaborative practice agreements with a physician or other prescribers but not have some of the things that could stop them with specific lab rules, but to do some simple CLIA testing.

State legislatures have also proposed that bills would allow pharmacists to dispense HIV pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylactics known as HIV PrEP and PEP to prescribe and dispense medicated assisted treatment drugs for patients. As pharmacists continue to provide more patient care, optimizing the operations to provide the robust clinical services through the unique mix of in person digital engagement is just crucial that we look forward we make sure that these laws are consistent, and we continue to utilize technology.

Question: With the current legislation in place around the pharmacist’s expanded role, what is the sustainability of rapidly evolving pharmacy business models?

There are a variety of state and federal legislation affecting the future of specialty pharmacy and the patient care that they deliver, and they include reimbursement models that are in requirements to implement various technologies. Legislation along with the transaction standards that enable the real time exchange of patient specific data can help to minimize some of the burden on specialty pharmacies and help them to better work with the patient, so that they can access and afford and adhere to those therapies. By expanding those value-added services that patients need beyond handling and dispensing of high cost medications, the specialty pharmacies can move toward providing more complete patient care, it helps to achieve a more sustainable business model and it improves the health outcomes for the patients.