By: Sal Monaco, PharmD Candidate c/o 2018
In recent years, the state of California has remained at the forefront of innovative pharmacy practice by recognizing of the importance of pharmacists in healthcare. The state recently took action which puts them another step ahead and strengthens the support pharmacists in the state receive. On September 25, 2016 the state of California passed an important piece of legislation which could bring pharmacists one step closer to gaining nationwide healthcare provider status. This legislation, entitled Assembly Bill No. 1114 (AB-1114), extends reimbursement for pharmacist services.
AB-1114 allows for reimbursements for pharmacy services under the Med-Cali program, which is the state’s program for Medicare and Medicaid. A total of five services were approved for reimbursement: dispensing travel medications, Naloxone, and self-administered hormonal contraceptives, administering vaccinations, and providing tobacco cessation counseling and nicotine replacement therapy.1 The amount that pharmacists will get reimbursed for these services is set at 85% of what physicians receive for similar services.1 The legislation also states, “This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect.”1 This one excerpt greatly emphasizes the importance that California places on the role of pharmacists in today’s healthcare system.
While AB-1114 allows for pharmacists to be reimbursed for the above mentioned services, it is not the bill which gave pharmacists permission to provide these services. The power to perform these services actually came in 2014 with Senate Bill No. 493 (SB-493). SB-493 is also the piece of legislature that granted pharmacists in California the much sought-after provider status.2
As student pharmacists and pharmacists, it is our responsibility to be proud of our profession and to prove to others the importance and value of pharmacists in healthcare. One of the best ways to support our profession is to attend PSSNY’s Pharmacy Lobby Day. By attending the lobby day, we are able to help push the legislative agenda of PSSNY to advance the field of pharmacy by bringing the importance of our role to the attention of state legislators. Without our advocacy efforts, it is likely the legislators will view pharmacists solely as people who stand behind a counter and dispense medications. I believe it is our obligation to teach others about our capabilities and the value we can provide to the healthcare system.
The recent actions taken by the government of California, as well as the actions taken by many other states, are truly a step in the right direction towards nationwide recognition of pharmacists as healthcare providers and proper reimbursement for their services. Currently, the federal government has proposed The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, which would grant pharmacists nationwide provider status and reimburse pharmacy services in medically underserved areas.3 The bill currently has strong bipartisan support; however, an official vote has yet to take place. It is hopeful that the proposed federal bill along with the varied state legislatures will continue to grow the field of pharmacy and expand its current scope of practice.
- AB-1114 Medi-Cal: pharmacist services. California Legislative Information. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1114. Published 09/25/2016. Accessed 10/23/2016.
- Yap D. California provider status law effective January 1. American Pharmacists Association. https://www.pharmacist.com/california-provider-status-law-effective-january-1-0. Published 02/01/2014. Accessed 10/25/2016.
- Marotta R. The state of provider status: an update for pharmacy students. Pharmacy Times. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/career/2016/pharmacycareers_february2016/the-state-of-provider-status-an-update-for-pharmacy-students. Published 02/22/2016. Accessed 10/25/2016.