The field of pharmacy is rapidly evolving and now more than ever, there are pharmacists working in all realms of healthcare, from drug and insurance companies to community pharmacies, hospitals, and clinic settings. Pharmacists are the medication experts, and we serve that role as a member of the healthcare team. One area of pharmacy that has not evolved as rapidly is our payment structure. Currently, pharmacies and pharmacists are paid or reimbursed by the number of prescriptions they fill versus the clinical knowledge and expertise they provide. In order for this to change, pharmacists need to receive national provider status recognition.
Presently, pharmacists do not have provider status and thus are not recognized nationally as healthcare providers. Many pharmacists and national pharmacy organizations are supporting a provider status bills in Congress, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Area Enhancement Act (H.R. 592/S.314), that would amend Title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to include pharmacists as providers and allow pharmacists to get reimbursed for direct patient care and clinical knowledge they provide in medically underserved areas. This bill has bipartisan support by over 290 House of Representative members and over 50 Senators. This crucial bill would change pharmacy practice and would open the door for pharmacists to practice at the highest level of their degree. We encourage all pharmacists and student pharmacists to reach out to their national legislators in support of these bills. If you would like more information about pharmacists’ provider status or on how you can get involved, please visit: http://www.pharmacistsprovidecare.com/ and http://www.ashp.org/menu/Advocacy.aspx.
Susan Nguyen, PharmD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice
Roseman University of Health Sciences