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March 21, 2014

Update on the Joseph A. Oddis Building

Filed under: Current Issue,From the CEO,Uncategorized — Kathy Biesecker @ 10:59 am

 

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

ASHP headquarters has been in Bethesda for 48 years and in our current building at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue for 22 years. It has served as a welcoming home for members and staff providing us with quality office space to host members and guests, and to conduct meetings and events.

7272 Wisconsin Avenue has provided convenient access to Metro, easy access from all three of the region’s major airports, and proximity to an array of local restaurants and hotels to host our members when they are in town. The building has been a valuable asset to ASHP that has grown in value and continues to provide ASHP with revenues through lease of both retail and office space.

One year ago we conducted a ceremony naming the building the Joseph A. Oddis Building in honor of Dr. Joseph A. Oddis, who served as ASHP’s Chief Executive Officer for 37 years, and whose vision and leadership led to ASHP acquiring the building in 1992. Since moving to this location, both ASHP and Bethesda have grown. The building sits atop the south end of the Bethesda Metro station and plans have been in place since the building was constructed to develop and build a new southern entrance to the Bethesda Metro station and add a new light rail service connected to the Metro, called the Purple Line.

This new rail line would connect Bethesda with points further east, and would be built on an old railroad right of way that currently houses the Capital Crescent Bicycle trail–a popular hiker-biker trail.  Recently, design studies revealed that it would not be feasible to construct the new stations and maintain a bicycle trail within the existing tunnel under our building, and that space limitation would limit design options for the transit stations.

As a result, ASHP was approached by the County regarding our willingness to explore the sale of the building to permit redevelopment of the site. To incentivize ASHP, the County is currently engaged in rezoning of several blocks here in Bethesda and exploring other incentives.

Previously, the plan had been to use the existing tunnel under our building for the Purple Line and to reroute the hiker-biker trail. The County approached us with a plan to combine the two under the building and build a larger metro station that would require demolition of the building. This is now the County’s preferred option, and we are therefore currently exploring it.

This option may present ASHP with a unique opportunity to obtain new and more modern offices to serve our future needs at an alternate location in downtown Bethesda. We have hired a law firm specializing in commercial real estate and an additional team of expert consultants who are working with staff to assess this opportunity and determine if such an arrangement would be in ASHP’s best interests. No decisions have been made at this point, and negotiations with developers and with county and state officials are continuing.

Dr. Oddis’ wisdom and vision years ago have provided ASHP not only with a quality home for more than 20 years, but with a valuable asset that has grown in value and places ASHP in a unique position to plan for our future.

I will let you know how things proceed. Thank you for your support of ASHP.

March 19, 2014

Provider Status Coming to Medically Underserved Areas?

A BILL INTRODUCED in the House of Representatives on March 11 would allow the Medicare program to reimburse pharmacists for pharmacist services in medically underserved communities.

According to the Rural Assistance Center, medically underserved areas occur in almost every state in the country. H.R. 4190 would offer provider status in those areas and areas which experience health care provider workforce shortages.

According to the Rural Assistance Center, medically underserved areas occur in almost every state in the country. H.R. 4190 would authorize Medicare payments to pharmacists who offer pharmacists’ services in those areas.

The Medicare program, which provides health insurance for the disabled and persons 65 years of age or older, currently does not provide a mechanism to directly reimburse pharmacists for their services.

Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky), G.K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina), and Todd Young (R-Indiana) jointly stated that their “common-sense bill” creates a means by which pharmacists can receive reimbursement for providing services permitted by state law to Medicare beneficiaries in medically underserved areas.

All three congressmen represent districts in which more than half the counties have been federally designated as medically underserved areas.

Pharmacotherapy Specialist Tim R. Brown cares for patients in a medically underserved area, Summit Service Area, commonly known as Akron, Ohio.

“This particular bill becoming a law would allow me to stand on my own as a provider—still working with that same physician and still working ‘incident to’ but being recognized as someone that’s a part of the team,” he said. “And that would be a huge step.”

Brown, who practices at Akron General Medical Center’s Center for Family Medicine, said he currently bills his chronic disease state management services under a collaborating physician’s name as incident to physician professional services in the physician’s office.

He estimated his payer mix as 60 percent Medicare and 40 percent private pay.

Ohio has allowed such pharmacist–physician–patient collaborative practice agreements since 1999.

Studies show that patients in all settings clearly benefit from the medication expertise of pharmacists.

The bill, if enacted into law, would also strengthen the health care team, Brown said.

“By giving provider status to pharmacists,” he said, “that [bill] strengthens our role as a part of the patient-centered medical home model team that many people are working within currently.”

Sandra Leal, director of clinical pharmacy at El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Arizona, cares for patients in the medically underserved Pima Service Area.

In fact, the health center targets the medically underserved population, she said.

Although El Rio has what Leal described as a good mix of payers, she lamented that the center does not receive compensation for some of the services the pharmacists provide patients. Or, if the center does receive compensation, the amount represents a level of service lower than what was actually provided to the patient.

For example, when Leal and other El Rio pharmacists manage the diabetes therapy of a patient with Medicare Part B coverage, “we have to override our level of care to a lower code because we’re not recognized for the full service that we provide.”

She said compensation for the actual service level the pharmacists provide would help the center’s clinical pharmacy program become more sustainable and widespread.

“There’s a significant demand for patient visits, for access,” Leal said. “We had a lot of people that joined the health care system [in 2014] with new insurance. And right now we have pharmacists at some of our sites but not all of the different satellites.”

The primary reason, she said, is lack of a means to permanently finance the full-time-equivalent positions. El Rio applies for and receives grants and funds, but those have end dates.

“I’m glad to see some new legislation out there” to recognize pharmacists as providers, Leal said.

This [bill] is a really great opportunity to give patients the access they deserve.

Although Gloria P. Sachdev, in her current position, does not work with a medically underserved population, she expressed support for the legislation.

Having “provider status” in Medicare Part B is “critically important to our sustainable business model” for clinical pharmacist services in ambulatory care settings, said Sachdev, a clinical assistant professor at the Purdue University College of Pharmacy.

“I’ll certainly be contacting my congressman and my senators . . . to support this bill,” she said, adding that she is “just waiting for someone to say, Do it” and also for the exact language of the bill to be available.

The bill by Guthrie is modeled after the concepts advocated by the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, in which ASHP plays a “significant leadership role,” said Kasey K. Thompson, the Society’s vice president for policy, planning, and communications.

“This [bill] is a really great opportunity to give patients the access they deserve” to pharmacist-provided patient care services, he said.

By amending the portion of the Social Security Act concerning the Medicare program, Thompson said, the bill would allow pharmacists to bill for Medicare Part B practitioner services.

The type and scope of those services remain under the purview of the state in which a pharmacist provides them, he said.

Guthrie’s bill pertains to all state-licensed pharmacists, Thompson said, and ASHP and the coalition support that position—all pharmacists are providers.

–By Cheryl A. Thompson, reprinted with permission from the ASHP News Center (first published March 14, 2014)

March 13, 2014

A Bold New Look, Feel for the ASHP Summer Meetings

 

ASHP's Summer Meeting has evolved into three boutique meetings that are held in the same venue. This year, they are in Las Vegas, May 31-June 4.

ASHP’s Summer Meeting has evolved into three boutique meetings that will be held in the same venue. This year, they will take place in Las Vegas, May 31-June 4.

The 2014 ASHP SUMMER MEETINGS in Las Vegas will look very different from their predecessors. Instead of a single large meeting, participants can choose from three concurrent and unique “boutique” conferences, each of which follows a specialized subject track. Welcome to the new ASHP Summer Meetings (note the intentional plural)!

“We looked at what makes some of our smaller meetings so successful year after year. What stood out clearly [in meetings like the Conference for Leaders in Health-System Pharmacy and the National Pharmacy Preceptors Conference] were the like-mindedness and shared interests of the people who attended,” said Michelle C. Abalos, Pharm.D., ASHP director of educational programs.

“Attendees had a common purpose and common goals, and many had similar professional responsibilities. Because the topics were very focused, participants felt the meeting was just for them.”

By applying the same structure to the new Summer Meetings, ASHP is focused on creating a heightened sense of purpose and inclusiveness by offering participants the opportunity to delve deeply into topics that are most relevant to their professional lives.

The Next Generation of Learning

Three meetings will share the spotlight this year: Informatics Institute; Pharmacy, Practice, & Policy; and Medication Safety Collaborative.

“Attendees want meaningful connections and to interact with peers who have common goals.”

The Medication Safety Collaborative set the stage for this new boutique meeting model with its roll-out as a pilot program at the 2013 Summer Meeting. The four-day event included educational sessions, networking, and other activities led by some of the foremost medication safety experts in the country.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. When asked what they liked about their experiences, attendees mentioned the chance to interact with like-minded peers over several days, a sense of community and unified purpose, a dedicated physical space and dedicated ASHP staff, a supportive networking atmosphere, the interprofessional nature of the event, and education programs that ‘spoke to them.’

This year’s Collaborative once again features distinguished experts in the field who will challenge participants to apply new knowledge and skills and build competency in areas such as integrating human and environmental factors, creating a safety culture, linking safety activities to accreditation and performance measures, developing and leading an interprofessional safety team, and using best practices.

ASHP's House of Delegates will convene as usual during the 2014 Summer Meetings.

ASHP’s House of Delegates will convene as usual during the 2014 Summer Meetings.

“Ideally, we’d like to see entire patient safety teams attend the meeting together,” said Abalos, noting the large array of collaborating partners in different disciplines, including organizations like the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, the American College of Physician Executives, and the Medication Safety Officers Society.

The new Informatics Institute will address emerging technology issues, such as the deployment of computerized prescriber order entry and ePrescribing. It targets pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, health information technology professionals, systems developers, policy-makers, consultants, vendor representatives, and other professionals involved in the collection and dissemination of health information.

Sessions at the new Pharmacy, Practice, & Policy meeting will revolve around leadership, operations and management, clinical practice, and policy and governance. It will also host ASHP House of Delegates activities.

Open Access

Each of the boutique meetings will have its own dedicated space for educational sessions, networking, and other activities, and each will have separate information desks and ASHP support staff.

The boutiques will also feature separate keynote speakers and websites. But the meetings are not exclusive. Regardless of which boutique attendees register for, they will still have unrestricted access to all sessions and events at any of the three specialized meetings.

The ASHP Summer Meetings will continue to host a common opening session, grand opening reception, and exhibit hall, along with a debut feature called ConnectLive.

ConnectLive is a groundbreaking way to network, create meaningful connections, and help meeting participants interactively solve some of the tough problems they face in their work.

“We know that attendees who come to these meetings want meaningful connections and to interact with peers who have common goals,” added Abalos. “We’re excited about this new format because we truly believe it will provide that special atmosphere.”

–By Steve Frandzel

March 12, 2014

Landmark Provider Status Bill Introduced in Congress

Filed under: Ambulatory Care,ASHP News,Clinical,Managers,Provider Status,Uncategorized — Kathy Biesecker @ 3:37 pm

A NEW PROVIDER STATUS BILL that extends pharmacists’ services to medically underserved areas of the country has received strong support from ASHP.

Introduced March 11, 2014, by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.), H.R. 4190 will amend the Social Security Act to recognize pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B.

The change will help address gaps in the U.S. health care system by increasing access to pharmacists’ services for patients who live in medically underserved communities.

“This bill will make a tremendous difference to patients needing additional access to the critical health care services that pharmacists provide,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP.

H.R. 4190 will recognize licensed pharmacists working within their state pharmacy practice acts to deliver care for patients in federally defined medically underserved communities.

The legislation also establishes a mechanism to pay for pharmacist provider services as a percentage of the current physician fee schedule, or pursuant to pharmacist specific codes as part of that schedule.

“The ASHP Board of Directors made achieving provider status the Society’s top priority in our strategic plan, and we are extremely pleased to see that patients are one step closer to having the access they deserve to the patient care services of pharmacists,” said ASHP President Gerald E. Meyer, Pharm.D., M.B.A., FASHP.

“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.”

 

March 3, 2014

Provider Status Update: A Coalition Has Formed

Filed under: Clinical,Current Issue,From the CEO,Managers,Provider Status — Kathy Biesecker @ 12:28 pm
Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

AFTER MORE THAN A YEAR of planning and strategizing, I’m pleased to be able to share with you some exciting developments in our efforts to achieve provider status.

ASHP is now part of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition that is working on legislation to amend the Social Security Act to recognize pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B. The proposal will recognize licensed pharmacists working within their state pharmacy practice acts to deliver care for patients in federally defined medically underserved communities.

This covers a large portion of the U.S., which includes many of the organizations in which our members practice. The legislative proposal also establishes a mechanism to pay for pharmacist provider services as a percentage of the current physician fee schedule, or pursuant to pharmacist specific codes as part of that schedule.

We are taking this approach for several reasons. The coalition’s proposal addresses areas of unmet need where patients will benefit greatly from the wide array of services that pharmacists can provide. From a policy perspective, fulfilling unmet needs helps address gaps in our health care system that will increase access, improve quality, and decrease costs—all top priorities for policymakers.

We will be working under an aggressive timetable to get a bill introduced in Congress soon. As we proceed, it may become necessary to make modifications to the proposal. However, the core principle that pharmacists must be included as providers under Medicare Part B will persist.

Please read my blog on ASHP Connect for more details on the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition’s work and how your participation will be critical to our success.

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