Yesterday, March 11, 2014, HR 4190 was introduced in the US House of Representatives to recognize pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B. The current legislation, introduced by Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Todd Young (R-IN), will enable patient access to, and reimbursement for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities. Pharmacists, as the most accessible health care professionals, are uniquely positioned to provide patients in medically underserved communities access to health care services that are already within their scope of practice. By providing for a payment mechanism under Medicare Part B, the bill will allow pharmacists to help fill the gaps in care that have been created by shortages of health care professionals and increases in the number of Americans who are now eligible to gain health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Although provider status has been a profession-wide goal for many years, activity began picking up in early 2013 and have come to a head with the formation of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC). The coalition currently represents over 20 organizations and is continuing to grow. Members include organizations representing patients, pharmacists, pharmacies, and other interested stakeholders.
This coalition is focused on developing and helping to enact a federal policy proposal that will enable patient access to, and payment for, Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities. Their primary goal is to expand medically underserved patients’ access to pharmacist services consistent with state scope of practice law.
Getting HR 4190 passed may be a long term effort (possibly even multiple years) that will require grassroots advocacy from all pharmacists. Get ready for action alerts asking you to send letters and emails and make phone calls to your legislators! Your state pharmacy association will continue to work with our national partners to make sure that you are kept up to date on the progress of HR 4190 and PAPCC. To read the press release from PAPCC, click here: http://bit.ly/1ix4RQQ.