California Gov. Jerry Brown has approved legislation that raises the status of pharmacists as health care providers and widens their scope of practice.

California, SB 493, advanced practice pharmacist, Gov. Jerry Brown, health care providers, pharmacists, California State Board of Pharmacy, California Pharmacists Association, CPhA, Jon Roth, Affordable Care Act

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Calif. enacts law recognizing 'advanced pharmacist'

October 2nd, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California Gov. Jerry Brown has approved legislation that raises the status of pharmacists as health care providers and widens their scope of practice.

On Tuesday evening, Brown signed into law SB 493, which expands the ability of pharmacists in California to collaborate with other members of the health care team.

Specifically, the law authorizes the California State Board of Pharmacy to recognize an "advanced practice pharmacist." Pharmacists with that designation can perform physical assessments, order and interpret medication-related tests, and refer patients to other health providers.

Advanced practice pharmacists also can initiate, adjust and discontinue medications under a physician's protocol or as part of an integrated system such as an accountable care organization (ACO), as well as participate in the evaluation and management of patient health conditions in collaboration with other providers.

California State Sen. Ed Hernandez, the legislation's author, noted on his website that the measure will align California law more consistently with federal programs such as the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and Indian Health Service, where pharmacists have been collaborating routinely with other health providers for decades.

SB 493, which was introduced early this year, received bipartisan support from the California Senate and Assembly and is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

By expanding the role of pharmacists, the new law will lead to greater patient access to care and improve the quality and efficiency of the health care delivery system, according to the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA).

"We appreciate the governor's signature on this landmark legislation," CPhA chief executive officer Jon Roth stated. "With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at a time when the number of primary care physicians continues to shrink, we believe this legislation will help ensure that the millions of new patients receiving insurance will be able to access health care services through their local pharmacist."

During debate in the California Senate and Assembly, lawmakers supporting the legislation pointed out that Gallup polls have shown pharmacists to be among the health professionals most trusted by consumers. In addition, they noted that reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services described pharmacists as highly qualified and trained, making them well-positioned to collaborate with doctors and primary care clinicians to help manage patients' medications and chronic conditions. 

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