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    Top 7 Challenges (and Opportunities) for Pharmacy in 2018

    What’s the difference between a challenge and an opportunity? In 2018, for pharmacy, they may be the same thing.


    Pharmacist working with patient

    Provider Status

    Provider status for pharmacists has arrived, at least in a few states. Federal legislation has the backing of more than half the House and half the Senate, but companion bills HR 592 and S 109 have been stalled by partisan politics.

    “It’s been a tough year to get anything accomplished in Washington,” said Tom O’Donnell, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Public Policy at the NACDS. The NACDS, NCPA, ASHP, the American Pharmacists Association, and other groups have backed repeated attempts to have pharmacists added to the short list of Medicare providers.

    The Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition is gearing up for another attempt at passage in 2018, O’Donnell added. This bill would give Medicare beneficiaries access to pharmacist-provided services in medically underserved areas based on state scope of practice laws. Pharmacists, like other non-physician practitioners, would be reimbursed at 85% of the physician fee schedule.

    Related article: Prescribing rights: Worth it?

    “It is unprecedented for a bill to have that kind of cosponsorship,” said Christopher Topoloski, ASHP Director of Federal Legislative Affairs. “This is a bill that everyone can rally around. It is good health policy.”

    Both NACDS and ASHP are encouraging pharmacists to contact their representatives and senators to push for action on the respective bills. The next legislative step is hearings in both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Every congressperson and a third of senators are looking for positive positions they can use during midterm elections in 2018.

    “It is pharmacists, constituents, voters, who move that process,” Topoloski said. “When it comes to dealing with Congress, pharmacists can be their own best advocates.”

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    Fred Gebhart, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Fred Gebhart works all over the world as a freelance writer and editor, but his home base is in San Francisco.


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