California legislation a victory for Rx

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers have agreed that pharmacists should be considered health care providers, passing legislation earlier this month that authorizes pharmacists to provide additional ­services.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on October 2, becomes effective on January 1.
Under the law pharmacists with specialized training will be recognized as “advanced practice pharmacists,” allowing them to provide preventative care, chronic disease management, medication therapy management, immunization delivery and wellness screenings.

The law, one of the first in the nation to officially recognize pharmacists as health care providers, has been praised by community pharmacy ­advocates.

“Whenever pharmacists are allowed to provide additional health care services, patients win,” Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) chief executive officer Edith Rosato says. “Outcomes are better, and they’re more satisfied with their care. The system overall benefits too — through lower costs, fewer drug-related ­adverse events, and better access to care.”

AMCP’s advocacy of the new law is seen as a main reason Brown agreed to sign the bill.
The association repeatedly lobbied the governor on the legislation and in late September wrote him a letter urging him to sign it.

Proponents of giving pharmacists expanded powers say the move is likely to have a positive influence on outcomes and costs. They say they hope California’s adoption of the law will make the state a precursor for other states to follow.

“Hopefully adoption of this legislation by the most populous state will prompt more states to enact similar legislation in the coming months,” the National Community Pharmacists Association said on its blog, The Dose, the day after Brown signed the bill into law.

Pharmacy advocates say the California law is a sign that lawmakers are beginning to realize the positive impact community pharmacy can have on the nation’s health care system.

“We are seeing broader and deeper recognition of the value of pharmacy, and this is one of the latest examples,” a spokeswoman for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores says. “As for the specifics of this law, we are going to keep a close eye on the way in which it is implemented. NACDS places a priority on identifying and pursuing opportunities for community pharmacy to help improve patients’ lives and improve the health care delivery system, and we want to help ensure that the law’s implementation reflects that principle.”

The new law, those in the industry note, comes at a crucial time for the nation’s health care system.

With the Affordable Care Act about to go into full effect, pharmacists are likely to play a more central role in patients’ health care, they note. By expanding pharmacists’ ability to collaborate with other health care providers the new law is likely to have a positive impact on patient health, those in the industry say.


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