Pharmacist Provider Status Bill Introduced in Congress

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Associations representing pharmacists expressed overwhelming support for a bill introduced in the House of Representatives that would define pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare.

Associations representing pharmacists expressed overwhelming support for a bill introduced in the House of Representatives that would define pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare.

A bill recently introduced into the House of Representatives will make pharmacists eligible for reimbursement as health care providers for certain services under Medicare if it becomes law. H.R. 4190, introduced on March 11, 2014, by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.), would amend the Social Security Act of 1935 so pharmacists are recognized as providers under Medicare Part B.

The bill would allow state-licensed pharmacists to provide care for patients in medically underserved communities and to be paid for their services. The services that pharmacists could provide include immunizations, diabetes screenings and self-management education, cardiovascular screenings, and behavioral therapy.

Since the beginning of 2013, a coalition of pharmacy associations has been pushing to win provider status for pharmacists, and the goal was a major topic at several conferences last year. Representatives of these associations expressed overwhelming support for the House bill:

  • “This bill will make a tremendous difference to patients needing additional access to the critical health care services that pharmacists provide,” said American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, in a press release.
  • “It is heartening to see that our elected officials in Washington appreciate the value pharmacists can bring as patient care providers, and we look forward to seeing this bill get passed and signed into law,” said ASHP President Gerald E. Meyer, PharmD, MBA, in a press release.
  • “The provider status designation will amplify pharmacists’ ability to do what they do best — serve patients and help them on the road to better health,” said National Association of Chain Drug Stores President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, in a press release.
  • "Independent community pharmacies often care for underserved patients in rural and urban areas alike,” said National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, in a press release. “Most of these providers are located in smaller communities and approximately 1,800 independents are the only pharmacy option in their rural communities. In other areas, independent pharmacies cater to diverse populations for whom English may be a second language. In these scenarios and others, independent community pharmacists are ideally positioned to play a greater role in health care, so NCPA is proud to support this legislation."
  • “This legislation seeks to fill critical needs and increase access to quality health care in medically underserved communities by enabling pharmacists to practice to the full extent of their education, training and license,” said Vince Ventimiglia, a principal with FaegreBD Consulting and advisor to the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC), in a press release. “The PAPCC is encouraged by this significant step forward to increasing patient access to health care in a cost-effective manner by making pharmacists, as key members of the patient care team, eligible for payment under Medicare Part B, and we look forward to working with our champions and others in Congress to enact this common-sense legislation into law.”

Do you think that the current effort to win provider status for pharmacists will succeed? Let us know by voting in our online poll.

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