During separate panel discussions at McKesson ideaShare 2023, pharmacists discussed advocacy for pharmacy benefit manager reform and community health worker training.
Independent pharmacists should continue to advocate at the state and federal level for policy that would allow them to practice at the top of their license, a panel of experts said during the Public Policy session at McKesson ideaShare 2023 in Las Vegas. The panel was moderated by Matt Williams, vice president of State Government Affairs at McKesson.
The main priority for community pharmacists should be the passage of House Resolution H.R. 1770—the passage of ECAPS (Equitable Community Access to Pharmacist Services Act 118th Congress), said Pete Slone, senior vice president of Public Affairs at McKesson, who spoke on the current legislative landscape in pharmacy policy.
“We found ourselves tantalizingly close [to provider status] last year because you guys did the work in pandemic response, and members of Congress are learning what community pharmacy really means,” Slone said.
Congressional passage would grant provider status to pharmacists and increase the scope of their services, as well as offer Medicare Part B for select clinical services provided in the pharmacy setting, Slone added.
Momentum toward provider status and the passage of H.R. 1770 is slow, but there are more bills at the state and federal level working toward it, Slone said. Key points emerging in these bills include disclosure of rebates and discounts of planned sponsors and federal agencies, prohibiting spread pricing, provisions for access and utilization solutions (electronic and prior authorization), and pricing transparency.
Scott Pace, PharmD, JD, a partner at Impact Management Group and the owner of Kavanaugh Pharmacy in Little Rock, Arkansas, participated in a panel discussion during the session and urged community pharmacists to be persistent with their legislatures.
“Over and over and over, not only hit state legislature with an ‘ask,’ but hit them with a compelling reason [for reform],” Pace said.
Community pharmacists must also understand that the methods used by some states to get a bill passed may not work others, and action does not simply stop once the legislation has been passed, Pace said. Panelist Brian Mayo, executive director of the Oregon Pharmacy Association, echoed similar sentiments.
Going forward, pharmacists should be pulling new policy levers to identify alternate revenue streams, identify appropriate patients for clinical trials, address social barriers to health, and leverage new technology to better serve patients, Slone said.
Pharmacies should also be supporting community health worker (CHW) training, which was addressed during a second panel discussion of the Public Policy session with Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, Sandie Kueker, BSPharm, RPh, pharmacist and owner of Hesston Pharmacy in Kansas, and Fauzea Hussain, vice president of Public Policy at McKesson.
A CHW is a connection point that educates the community about available health services, said Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDCES, chief pharmacy officer, Health Mart, who moderated this discussion.
“It’s a no brainer to get technicians to do it,” Lyons said, because the technician is already active in the pharmacy and front-facing to the community. The CHW knows their community, can identify disadvantaged social determinants of health (SDOH), and may be reimbursed in some states, Monroe said.
“When we talk about federal provider status, whether it is the pharmacist or the CHW, there are still a number of barriers that we actually face,” Hussain said. “From an advocacy perspective, I think it’s always great to let your state representatives, your federal representatives, see the work that you are doing on a daily basis.”
While waiting for more legislative action, community pharmacists should be open to new opportunities to raise revenue, according to Debby Garza, RPh, of the Texas Pharmacy Association. She echoes support for CHW training—with possible reimbursement—and payment parity.
In general, “integrating pharmacists into the medical care team, focusing on sustainable reimbursement models for clinical services—that’s how we change the game,” Slone concluded. “It’s how we support the independent pharmacy, which is the heartbeat of so many communities.”
McKesson. General Session: Public Policy. Presentation. McKesson ideaShare 2023. Las Vegas, Nevada.