Pharmacies and Health Care Reform

The recent approval of health care legislation by the House of Representatives wrapped a yearlong struggle by the Obama administration to make fundamental changes to the nation’s health care systems. Following the legislation’s approval, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the National Community Pharmacists Association applauded the legislation for including many changes that they’d lobbied for inclusion. These included improvements to medication therapy management, a reduction in cuts to Medicaid’s pharmacy reimbursement rates, and exemption of pharmacies from durable medical equipment accreditation requirements.

These changes and more have been promoted by pharmacy advocate groups since the beginning of the reform process. The Senate measure was passed in December, with the House approving it this week for the president’s signature. Both groups said that maintaining pharmacy’s provisions through this process will help pharmacist-patient collaboration in the long run. They lauded the “greater transparency” fostered by the bill and said that though it will take vigilance to ensure that the rest of the process goes smoothly and continues to take pharmacists’ concerns into account, the bill’s approval is a good first step and will help foster an image of pharmacy’s viability as a source of neighborhood health care.

Additional components include: closing a coverage gap for Medicare spenders; an extension of Medicaid that allows for home- or community-based care for disabled citizens who might otherwise need to be institutionalized; a push for reduction in preventable hospital readmissions overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and a pilot program for Medicare payment bundling designed to encourage doctors and other health care providers to better coordinate patient care. The point of all these and more is to allow pharmacies to provide better and more transparent patient care and to act as anchors for community medical treatment. Only time will tell if the new law stands by its promises, but for now, pharmacists have something to hope for.

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of Nursing Degrees. She welcomes your comments at her email:

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