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Pharmacist Provider Status Update

Nov 21, 2013

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

I am pleased to let you know about progress ASHP is making in our efforts to achieve provider status. As I have previously communicated, a group of pharmacy stakeholders from the major national pharmacy professional associations and chain pharmacies have been diligently working over the course of the past year to create principles and define federal legislative proposals to recognize pharmacists as Medicare Part B providers in the Social Security Act.  This is no small task. The group has worked incredibly hard toward achieving this common goal.

It has been a great pleasure to see and experience just how committed all of pharmacy is to this important cause. Together, we can help patients get the access they deserve to pharmacists’ care that improves health outcomes and decreases costs.

I think it is safe to say that there has never been so much agreement among our pharmacy organizations that provider status for pharmacists is needed.  We believe we are very close as a pharmacy stakeholders group to finalizing a legislative proposal.  Many patients have been waiting too long for ready and consistent access to the only member of the team with the depth and breadth of medication knowledge that the pharmacist possesses.

We are extremely excited about the recent successful campaign led by the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists, working in collaboration with other stakeholders, to achieve provider status for pharmacists in California.  The success in California will undoubtedly help us at the federal level and serves as an example for other states to follow.

I was encouraged to see two recent articles in prominent medical and health policy publications citing the importance of having pharmacists on the team.  An article in Health Affairs by physician David Bates and pharmacist Marie Smith stated that “pharmacists belong in Accountable Care Organizations and integrated care teams.”  A position paper by the American College of Physicians defines pharmacists as part of the “clinical care team.”  It is really important to hear that physicians and other providers are publically confirming our value as essential care providers.

All of the national organizations representing pharmacists and pharmacies across the entire continuum of care will be invited to join the pharmacy provider status stakeholders group which will spearhead our efforts at the federal level.  We plan to reach consensus on a federal legislative proposal for provider status by early 2014, at which time a well-funded and focused pharmacy provider status coalition will be formed to support a bill.  We hope the coalition will have expanded its membership to include additional stakeholders representing the other health professions, patient and consumer groups, payors, business coalitions, state-based groups, and many others.

We will also hire the best lobbyists, public relations professionals, and other consultants to help ensure a successful provider status campaign, and engage and elicit the support of as many of you as possible.  Our ambitious yet realistic goal is to try to have a bill introduced in Congress by the spring of 2014.

The work that ASHP and our partner pharmacy stakeholders have done on provider status over the last year has been incredibly positive and productive.  We hope you can sense the level of excitement and optimism that we have about the prospects of achieving provider status for the patients we serve.  We truly believe that we are rapidly approaching an unprecedented and historic moment for our patients and profession.  This isn’t to say that we should begin the celebration, as we have much work still left to do. But from our perspective, the end is more in sight than ever before.

I look forward to sharing another update with you soon and to having all of you join together with us in our campaign to achieve provider status.  Enjoy your holidays, and I hope to see many of you at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting in Orlando!

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