Granting Pharmacists Provider Status During the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Critical

Pharmacy Times® interviewed Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDE, of Health Mart and Pete Slone of McKesson on why provider status for pharmacists is important to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pharmacy Times® interviewed Nancy Lyons, BSPharm, MBA, CDE, vice president and chief pharmacy officer for Health Mart, and Pete Slone, senior vice president of public affairs for McKesson, on the value of the pharmacist and why provider status for pharmacists is important to consider during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The discussion included how the past perceived value of the pharmacist has changed in the eyes of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic and what the role of the pharmacist is in our current health care system in light of pharmacists’ expanded importance in the fight against COVID-19.

Lyons explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, granting pharmacists provider status would deliver significant benefits to the health care system.

“Provider status simplifies the billing and payment processes for the services that are performed by the pharmacist, and that just removes the barriers for the patients. If the pharmacist is the right provider, and it's an accessibility issue, [the patient] shouldn't have to decide whether or not they need to pay out of pocket or if the pharmacist is going to be disadvantaged for providing that service,” said Lyons. “But with all the action that [the Department of Health and Human Services] has taken to grant the authority to pharmacists to help solve those critical health needs, the payment and reimbursement issues are often what stalls the process and slows down the good work that all of us are trying to accomplish for the nation.”

Lyons and Slone also discussed some legislative priorities that would support pharmacists in delivering the greatest value to patients this year and whether these priorities will change following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.