Today InnovaRx initiates the blog section of our website. Not being a techy or as computer savvy as my two daughters of the younger generations, I am not quite sure how this is supposed to work.

However, it is intended to stimulate dialogue in the community and among health care professionals about issues that are current and controversial in healthcare, involve medication management or just topics that get under the author’s skin that I feel deserve comment.

PHARMACISTS PROVIDE CARE:

How often have you gone to your pharmacy and while receiving counseling about your new prescription, engaged the pharmacist in a discussion whether the medication is the right one for your condition and are there side effects, drug interactions or other drug issues beyond the normal required counseling? After 40 years of experience, my guess is your pharmacist willingly spent the extra time to answer all your questions and make sure you leave the pharmacy satisfied with the information.

This is provided with no thought of being reimbursed for this ‘consult,’ but as a normal part of the patient/pharmacist relationship.

Well, doctors and other non-physician health professionals are paid under Medicare Part B for providing necessary health care services. Currently, pharmacists are not reimbursed in this fashion, and receive minimal payments from insurance companies for the prescription commodity they dispense.

ONE MAN’S OPINION:

After 40 years of practice, I would be the first to admit that my profession could have secured payment for services similar to other health care professionals had we been more aggressive in the past.

At the same time, the education and curriculum we are giving new pharmacists dictates that we provide an opportunity to collaborate with the other health professionals and apply their learned skills to improve and better public health. Allowing reasonable reimbursement for services beyond pure dispensing will allow this next generation to prosper professionally, create job satisfaction and stimulate their continued service to their communities.

Lack of appropriate payment to pharmacists for their intellectual abilities under state scope of practice definitions, unnecessarily limits patient access to certain health care services and the pharmacists contributions t to create positive health outcomes. We need an environment where pharmacists can practice at the top of their educational training, pay them for their intellectual capabilities and better integrate them into the patient’s health care team. This will improve heath outcomes and provide great benefit to specific populations with chronic diseases.

IS THERE A SOLUTION TO THIS DILEMMA? ONE MAN’S OPINION:

Glad you asked………Currently there are two pieces of legislation in the House and Senate to address this issue.  HR 592 AND S. 109. Passage of these bills will allow Medicare recipients access to pharmacist-provided services under Medicare Part B by amending a section of the Social Security Act. The services would be paid for under Part B if they are provided in medically underserved communities and consistent with state scope of practice laws. At the present time, 242 Representatives and 51 Senators are co-sponsors of these bills. Those numbers will allow the bills to become law when voted on by Congress………However, it is still important to increase support.

KEY ASPECTS OF THE LEGISLATION:

The bills seek to increase patient access and improve quality by allowing pharmacists to give patient care services consistent with their education, training and license. The federal legislation would not expand permitted types of pharmacist services. Those would continue to be governed by state scope of practice laws.

The bills promote increased care access to patients who are medically underserved. This will occur in communities where significant shortages of primary care physicians and access issues exist. The legislation helps address these primary problems in underserved areas.

Finally, the bills promote cost-effective heath care through increasing access to care, providing early intervention opportunities in cost-effective settings and minimizing long-term health care costs like those associated with preventable high-cost conditions. Similar to precedent in the Social Security Act for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, pharmacist services would be reimbursed at 85% of the accepted physician fee schedule. If they were working under direct physician supervision (i.e. in the providers office), they would be paid at 100% of the fee schedule.

ONE MAN’S OPINION:

Hear, Hear! As a retired pharmacist who served various communities for 40 years, I believe these payment schedules are more than equitable. They would allow Pharmacy Schools to continue to elevate the education of our future pharmacists, and contribute appropriate incentives for the next generations to want to join this noble profession.

WHAT CAN I DO AS A CONCERNED CITIZEN?

  • Contact the House offices of Rep. Brett Guthrie or G.K. Butterfield to add your support to HR 592
  • Contact the Senate offices of Sen. Chuck Grassley or Robert Casey to add your support to S. 109
  • Contact your local Representative/Senator, express your support and encourage them to support these bills if they are not already co-sponsors
  • Discuss this vital legislation with friends and stimulate them to contact their current legislators asking for their support of passage.

So their you have my initial effort.

Feel free to contact at InnovaRx at drneal@innova-rx.net with any constructive comments or opinions.

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