Retail News Breaks
FTC urged to back pharmacist 'provider status' bill
May 8th, 2014
ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the Patient Access to Pharmacists' Care Coalition (PAPCC) have called on the Federal Trade Commission to support legislation that would further efforts to designate pharmacists as health care providers.
NACDS said Thursday that the association and PAPCC have submitted comments to the FTC as a follow-up to the commission's "Examining Healthcare Competition” workshop, which was held in March to assess activities and trends that may affect competition in the health care sector.
The legislation, H.R. 4190, introduced in March by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R., Ky.), G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.) and Todd Young (R., Ind.), would amend the Social Security Act to allow pharmacists to be reimbursed under Medicare Part B for certain health services in medically underserved communities.
When the bill was introduced, NACDS noted that it would help achieve "provider status" for pharmacists under the Medicare program.
"Pharmacies remain committed to their valuable role in providing medications, fostering medication safety and effectiveness, and providing health and wellness services. In addition, innovative pharmacy services and other health care services available in accessible retail settings can do even more to improve patient health and wellness, often in collaboration with primary care physicians, nurses and other professionals," NACDS wrote in its comments to the FTC after the workshop.
"NACDS supports efforts by the FTC to create a robust health care marketplace that advances patient choice and competition to improve the accessibility, quality and affordability of health care in America," the association said. "To that end, NACDS asks FTC to support the removal of needless barriers to the effective functioning of innovative health care delivery for the patients we seek to serve; support fairer scope of practice, supervision and reimbursement laws across states to advance competition and patient choice; and support federal legislation that would designate pharmacists as health care providers under Medicare Part B, removing an unwarranted and harmful exclusionary, competition barrier."
PAPCC was formed earlier this year to help drive the development of federal policy to enable patient access to and payment for Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities. Establishing provider status for pharmacists would allow them practice at the top of their education level, according to the coaltion.
"A number of factors will combine to create excess demand and a shortage of primary health care providers in the near future," PAPCC said in its comments to the FTC. "The factors include an aging population, a rise in chronic conditions and policy changes such as those associated with the Affordable Care Act. Patient demand and the resulting problems associated with a lack of access to care are particularly acute in medically underserved areas. To address this increase in demand, all providers in the health care system should practice to the fullest extent allowed by their license."
PAPCC's members span a range of pharmacy industry stakeholders. They include retail pharmacy operators such as Albertsons, Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie, CVS Caremark, Fred's, Fruth Pharmacy, Rite Aid, Safeway, Supervalu pharmacies, Thrifty White Pharmacy and Walgreens, along with pharmaceutical distributors AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health and trade groups such as the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Food Marketing Institute, International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, NACDS and the National Community Pharmacists Association.
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