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The Politics of Healthcare Reform

Dec 18, 2009
Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D.

Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D.

NOW THAT THE BRUISING PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN is finally behind us, Americans are wondering how the new realities in Washington, D.C., might affect their daily lives.

Whatever your personal political leanings might be, it’s clear that President Obama’s sweeping healthcare reform proposals are some of the most ambitious in decades.

His plan focuses on access and affordability as well as promoting public health via prevention and chronic disease state management. The latter is especially good news for hospital and health-system pharmacists. That’s because we are uniquely positioned to provide the kind of medication therapy management that would save money and dramatically increase quality.

In this new legislative reality, ASHP has a number of priorities, including adding annual medication therapy review and assessment by a pharmacist to all Medicare Part D plans and including pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B.

We are also moving forward with legislation drafted late last year to restore Medicare funding for postgraduate year two (PGY2) pharmacy residency programs. As you’ll read in the cover story in this issue of InterSections, ASHP has a long history of supporting and cultivating residency training for pharmacists.

When the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) cut funding for PGY2 programs in 2004, it was a real blow to pharmacists everywhere who wish to pursue this important specialty training. The new “Medicare Specialized Pharmacy and Health Care Improvement Act” seeks to restore this funding. Sen. Tim Johnson (D.-S.D.) has signed on as the bill’s chief sponsor.

Of course, given the current global economic crisis, we know that securing new Congressional appropriations will be a challenge and that we will be just one of many organizations seeking Congressional support in this move toward universal health care. But we are very excited about the possibilities for patient care and pharmacy’s future. And we are more committed than ever to moving pharmacy’s agenda forward in this new political environment.

Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D.

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