APhA Applauds New Opportunity for Pharmacists to Work as ‘Providers’ in Ohio
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) applauds a new program in Ohio announced between UnitedHealthcare Community Health Plan and two community pharmacies. Under the new initiative, which was worked on in collaboration with the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA), the health care company will pay community pharmacists to work with its Medicaid patients to better manage chronic conditions.
The program will allow community pharmacists to complement physician care efforts by helping manage conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, preventing unnecessary hospitalizations, thus improving health outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic is putting unprecedented strain on the state’s health care delivery system and this program will help by expanding patient access to care.
“It’s great to see that UnitedHealthcare has recognized the benefits of compensating pharmacists for providing patient care services,” said incoming APhA CEO Scott J. Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, who most recently served as the chief pharmacy officer of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “Having worked with OPA to pass laws that empower pharmacists to care for patients in Ohio, I am thrilled to see this next step.”
“Access to pharmacists’ medication and health expertise is great for Ohio Medicaid patients, and will serve as another example for why CMS and other payers should recognize pharmacists as providers,” said Stuart Beatty, PharmD,BCACP, FAPhA, OPA Director of Strategy and Practice Transformation.
The launch of the program is the first action from an Ohio health insurer to take advantage of the legislation passed in January 2019 that allows insurers to pay pharmacists as medical health care providers.
The first phase of the program is rolling out with two northeastern Ohio community pharmacies: Brewster Family Pharmacy in Brewster, Ohio, and Franklin Pharmacy in Warren, Ohio, both of which are in medically underserved communities. The program will expand to other pharmacies over a period of time.
UnitedHealthcare will initially pay pharmacists based on the time they spend consulting with patients and physicians but is planning to develop a system that will compensate pharmacists for positive outcomes.
As the leading national advocate for pharmacists, APhA’s primary policy initiative is fighting for patient access to pharmacists’ patient care services. “This advancement adds to the progress being made across the country and serves as another example for state and federal legislators and decision-makers regarding the impact that pharmacists can bring to improving patient care and controlling health care costs across the nation,” Knoer noted.