NACDS, NCPA urge expanded role for pharmacists in new healthcare models

Expanding role would facilitate pharmacy services, allow for reimbursement under ACOs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Pharmacy groups are advocating that Congress expand the role of pharmacists in new healthcare delivery models.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association, in a joint letter issued Monday, asked the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to use its authority under the Social Security Act to expand the role of pharmacists in new accountable care organization models, community-based transitions of care and bundled payment initiatives. Current Medicare law doesn't recognize pharmacists as providers, which could limit their participation in new healthcare models, the NACDS and NCPA said. The Innovation Center, as the federal office is known, tests and evaluates new medical care delivery and payment systems.

"Permitting pharmacists to practice to their maximum capabilities within these new delivery models would help increase medication adherence and coordination between healthcare settings, result in higher rates of vaccinations and reduce the burden of the physician shortage, particularly with the influx of new patients in 2014 through the Health Care Marketplaces and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility," the letter read. "Because pharmacists have the proven ability to provide services which lead to better clinical outcomes and lower healthcare costs, we urge the Innovation Center to use its authority to find mechanisms for pharmacists to participate in these programs, such as granting pharmacists provider status for the purpose of participating in Innovation Center projects."

Pharmacists, the groups noted, can help address the problem of medication nonadherence — which, according to some estimates, costs the healthcare system $290 billion per year — by providing services like face-to-face medication therapy management counseling and medication reconciliation, as well as immunizations. The NACDS and NCPA said that following their recommendations would allow pharmacists to better provide those and other services and be reimbursed for them through ACOs and other models.

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