Pharmacists get a well-deserved vote of confidence in new federal report

If you haven’t yet, check out “Reforming America’s Healthcare System Through Choice and Competition,” a new report from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor. The report highlights action states and the federal government could take to develop a better functioning health care marketplace by increasing access to patient care services.

And you know what? The report acknowledges something our patients already understand—pharmacists should be allowed to practice at the top of their professions.

Specifically, the report’s recommendations call for states to expand their scope of practice statutes to allow pharmacists and other health care providers to practice to the top of their license, utilizing their full skill set and training.

In addition, the report says that the federal government and states should consider legislative and administrative proposals to allow nonphysician providers to be paid directly for their services.

APhA has long fought for the recognition of pharmacists as providers of quality patient care and the need to cover their services. We’re very pleased the federal government has demonstrated it is listening in this new report and officially recognizes that pharmacists and other highly trained professionals can safely and effectively provide some of the same patient care services as physicians.

However, it’s not all champagne and roses. A few additional provisions in the report recommend scrutinizing existing “any willing provider” laws and increasing the use of selective contracting, despite the negative impact this would have on patient choice, access to care, and competition. These recommendations also stand in stark contrast to a recent rule, finalized by HHS/CMS earlier this year, that actually strengthened “any willing pharmacy” protections in Medicare in order to address plans or their PBMs excluding qualified pharmacies from participating in standard Part D networks.

Stay tuned to this space for any federal policy changes that come about in response to this report. And, rest assured, APhA will continue our efforts to educate policymakers on how expanding access to patient-centered, team-based care that includes pharmacists can create a health care system that functions optimally for patients and communities—all while lowering costs.