Big provider status news came out of the Evergreen State last week! Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state signed into law landmark legislation that helps patients access the valuable services pharmacists provide. We want to thank the Washington State Pharmacists Association (WSPA) for its leadership and collaboration with Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, Rep. Shelly Short, the Washington State Medical Association, Washington State Hospital Association, and patient advocacy groups.
The bipartisan legislation, SB 5557, now officially law, requires health insurance carriers in Washington State to enroll pharmacists into their provider networks and pay pharmacists for services provided within their scope of practice.
This new law in Washington state appropriately recognizes pharmacists’ specialized education and training. It also recognizes that pharmacists are key members of the health care team and are committed to improving the quality, access, and cost of health care for all patients. This law will help patients in Washington state access needed health care services through their local pharmacist.
I know that these wins will keep coming as more state legislatures recognize that patients lack access to health care and pharmacists are a qualified and often underutilized provider who can fill these health care gaps. The recent National Governors Association report also recognizes the value pharmacists provide in improving the health of our citizens, and is fuel for state legislative attention to expand access and coverage for pharmacists’ patient care services.
APhA continues to push for provider status legislation at the federal level. The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act was introduced in both the U.S. House (H.R. 592) and U.S. Senate (S. 314) earlier this year. Today, there are 131 bipartisan cosponsors on the House bill and 15 cosponsors on the Senate bill.
Let’s continue to push for patient access to pharmacists’ patient care services at the state and national levels. If you are not already a member of the Pharmacists Provide Care campaign, or have not sent a letter to your Members of Congress urging them to support the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, please go to PharmacistsProvideCare.com.
Congratulations again to Washington state pharmacists and the WSPA team, and thank you for all the work you’re undertaking in every corner of the nation to advocate for our profession and the patients we serve.
Photo credit: Jacqueline Q. Garza