January 30, 2015 8:00 PST ScienceDocs News


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In January 2015, the United States Congress introduced 2 bills (H.R. 592 in the House of Representatives and S. 314 in the Senate) that would specify pharmacists as healthcare providers. The legislation, if passed and enacted, would allow patients to access medication therapy management services from pharmacists in medically underserved communities. And, pharmacists, under the designation of “provider,” would receive Medicare reimbursement for these patient care services.

Overall, these bills advance the rights of patients to access quality, affordable care when and where they need it most. In addition to bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, these bills are supported by several pharmacy professional organizations and advocacy groups.

Pharmacists are an integral part of a multidisciplinary health care team; they are highly-educated, well-trained professionals who are the sole “drug experts” in an ever-expanding field of medical specialists. They receive extensive instruction in the clinical application of pharmacology, biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, therapeutics, adverse drug reactions, laboratory data, and drug information to the management of human disease states. Pharmacists are well-positioned to identify and prevent drug interactions, evaluate drug-related problems, recommend changes in pharmaceutical care plans, and evaluate and interpret clinical data.

Pharmacists are much more than pill counters at the local drug store and several studies have demonstrated positive outcomes when pharmacists are directly involved in the management of patients’ medication therapies: hospital readmissions are reduced when pharmacists are involved in discharge planning, glycemic control is superior for diabetic patients when pharmacists are allowed to customize drug and lifestyle interventions, blood pressure control is strengthened for patients with hypertension when pharmacists provide medication management, transitions of care are enhanced when pharmacists coordinate care, and global improvement is noted and illness severity is decreased for patients with mental illness when pharmacists optimize therapy. Additionally, across a range of demographics and disease states, patient satisfaction is increased when pharmacists are involved in the provision of health care services.

Pharmacists are accessible and trusted members of the health care team and they possess richly-developed clinical judgment that is unparalleled by other medical professionals. They are ready and willing to support and optimize patient outcomes, but, today, pharmacists are stifled by an antiquated reimbursement system. By granting pharmacists provider status and allowing reimbursement for much-needed medication management services, access to and quality of patient care will increase.

Pharmacists can and should be integrated into diverse practice settings as part of team-based, patient-focused health care: pharmacists have the knowledge and experience to customize care to meet patient and population needs. New models of health care must – in order to be successful – include pharmacists in patient care roles, and this is only feasible if pharmacists are permitted to live up to their credentials and are acknowledged and endorsed as health care providers.


Bill Summary & Status, 114th Congress (2015-2016): H.R. 592. Available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d114:1:./temp/~bdlQkc::|/home/LegislativeData.php?n=BSS;c=114|. Accessed 30 January 2015.

Bill Summary & Status, 114th Congress (2015-2016): S. 314. Available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d114:3:./temp/~bdlQkc::|/home/LegislativeData.php?n=BSS;c=114|. Accessed 30 January 2015.

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