It has been an exceptional year so far with efforts to advance provider status in Congress. As a lead member of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition (PAPCC), ASHP has played a key role in securing congressional co-sponsors for the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592/S. 314). In just over one year, we have garnered widespread bipartisan support in a fiercely partisan Congress, with 287 House co-sponsors of H.R. 592 and 45 Senate co-sponsors of S. 314. This is a terrific start, but our quest is not nearly complete. As we approach the midway point of 2016, the PAPCC continues its push for a congressional hearing on the legislation, and we are awaiting a response to our request that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) examine the bills and provide a cost estimate.
Earlier this year, nearly 40 student members of ASHP converged on Capitol Hill in our second Student Legislative Day, helping to maintain momentum for provider status. In addition, ASHP is planning member outreach to Congress during recess periods, where ASHP members meet with their elected officials and their staff back home in the state or district where they reside. This will culminate in another push over the summer to get ASHP members talking with their members of Congress about the provider status legislation and why it is so important to the future of healthcare.
Since the first provider status bill was introduced in the spring of 2014, the National Governors Association issued a report that called for greater utilization of pharmacists’ medication-use expertise in direct patient care. Earl “Buddy” Carter, a pharmacist, was elected to Congress from the state of Georgia. Several states (CA, OR, WA), enacted legislation that would grant pharmacists provider status on the state level, and even more have followed with legislation updating pharmacy practice acts to expand patient care opportunities and streamline collaborative practice agreements.
We have come a long way, but we’re not quite there yet. ASHP remains committed to this cause, and I hope you are, too. If you have not done so already, take a few minutes to write to your congressional delegation and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors and help move the bills forward. Join your colleagues during recess periods to meet with your members of Congress back home and make them understand why this legislation is critical to the health and well-being of the patients you serve, as well as the voters they serve. Finally, if you’re an ASHP member, don’t forget to make a donation to the PAC to exercise our voice and support for pharmacy supporters in Congress.
It’s an exciting time to be a pharmacist, and achieving provider status will go a long way toward improving patients’ lives. Thank you for all that you do on behalf of your patients and for being members of ASHP.