Pharmacist Provider Status Bill Reintroduced in Congress

Pharmacists are getting closer to obtaining provider status, as federal legislation that would enable pharmacists to provide health care services to Medicare patients in underserved communities has been reintroduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives.

Pharmacists are getting closer to obtaining provider status, as federal legislation that would enable pharmacists to provide health care services to Medicare patients in underserved communities has been reintroduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives.

A number of pharmacy organizations applauded the news that US Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Todd Young (R-IN), and Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (HR 592), which garnered bipartisan support from 123 co-sponsors when it was originally proposed in last year’s 113th Congress. One day later, on January 29, 2015, US Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced companion legislation (S 314) to the House bill.

“The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is pleased to see the reintroduction of legislation that will increase patient access by taking advantage of pharmacists—an important but often underutilized member of the patient’s health care team,” said APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan in a press release. “APhA and the pharmacy profession stands ready to build on the success achieved last year on this issue on Capitol Hill. Pharmacists are key members of the health care team, and when federal law recognizes their services, patients will have greater access to coordinated quality health care.”

In a separate statement, Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, pointed out that, “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.”

“Pharmacists are helping to shape the health care delivery system of tomorrow—in partnership with doctors, nurses, and others,” Anderson added. “This collaboration with other health care team members can lead to better health outcomes for the ultimate good of the patient.”

If the legislation becomes law, it will make state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities eligible for reimbursement as health care providers for certain services under Medicare program, which will grant pharmacists greater federal recognition as members of the health care team.

In endorsing the bill, National Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, said, “This common-sense legislation deserves support from the US House of Representatives, US Senate, and President.”

“Independent community pharmacies are particularly well positioned to better help patients through expanded ‘provider status,’” Hoey stated. “They already play a vital role in underserved communities.”