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APhA: Ruling spells opportunity for pharmacists
June 28th, 2012
WASHINGTON – The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) aims to push ahead with efforts to gain full implementation of "pharmacy-friendly" provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) following the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the major components of the health care reform law.
"APhA views the Supreme Court ruling as an important opportunity for pharmacists to help patients with their medications," APhA chief executive officer Thomas Menighan said in a statement Thursday, when the court issued its decision.
In the core focus of the legal debate, the High Court found that the ACA's controversial "individual mandate" — which required individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty — was constitutional under Congress' power to levy taxes.
"We are pleased that the many pharmacy-friendly provisions of the Affordable Care Act will remain in force as a result of today's U.S. Supreme Court decision," Menighan stated. "Pharmacists have been working diligently alongside physicians and other health care providers throughout this debate to continue the implementation of a system that integrates the value of pharmacist clinical services and delivers the best quality health care to all Americans. These have been important tenets no matter what approach for health care reform our law makers took."
He pointed out that the court's ruling enables other key elements of the law will stand, such as the closing of the Medicare coverage gap, or "doughnut hole," plus opportunities for pharmacist inclusion as members of the health care team in medical homes and accountable care organizations.
Many pharmacists and pharmacies have begun to implement changes facilitated through the health reform law that stand to enhance patient care, according to APhA, which noted that pharmacist clinical services can now be built up and expanded with the continuation of ACA. That covers such areas as medication therapy management (MTM), the Independence at Home Demonstration Project, accountable care organizations (ACOs), medical homes, transitions of care, electronic health record incentives and e-prescribing.
The ACA will lead to "the largest expansion of health care coverage since Medicare was established in 1965," reaching about 32 million of 50 million uninsured Americans, according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine article cited by APhA.
"With ACA now set to proceed toward implementation of the individual mandate in 2014, APhA will engage our members in reviewing and seeking needed changes in regulations as they are developed," stated APhA senior vice president of government affairs Brian Gallagher, "and we will work with our colleagues in state pharmacy associations as exchanges are developed."