California Bill Would Classify Pharmacists as Medical Providers

by pharmacy on May 8, 2013

A bill that aims to see pharmacists recognized as, “health care providers who have the authority to provide health services” is making its way through the California state legislature. This bill has potential to travel quickly through the senate, or it could end up frozen and hung up on technicalities. The bill shows a changing attitude towards the services that pharmacists provide, and with it allows for a more open dialog about what medical providers can or could expect from a pharmacist listed as a medical provider in their facility.

The bill would allow California pharmacists to dispense smoking cessation drugs, train others about drug therapy, participate in reviews of patient milestones and have access to medical reports to offer suggestions or alternatives, furnish contraceptives, and more. Having pharmacists able to complete these tasks will free up valuable time and resources in hospitals, primary care clinics, and other health care settings. It would be a boon to the public by allowing pharmacists to perform physical exams, offer patients referrals to other healthcare providers, adjust and begin drug therapies, and more.

There is a vast shortage of health care providers in California, and this bill would enable many pharmacists to fill a much needed role for medical providers in the state. This will allow pharmacists to have the designation of “Advanced Practice Pharmacist,” and enable them to perform the basic health care assessments and services listed above. This designation is currently available for pursuit by pharmacists in the state of California, offering this advanced designation to over 40,000 pharmacists. Allowing pharmacies and pharmacists to offer their services in a variety of settings, and expanding the services which they can provide is a crucial step in easing the burden on an already overtaxed medical care provider system in California.

Pharmacists in California will be allowed to expand their services provided, allowing for basic services to be rendered by the pharmacists on staff instead of a primary care physician or another member of a medical team. Creating more health care providers is key, as California’s medical care options are set to change drastically when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in 2014. California’s state level health care assistance program, Med-Cal, will not currently allow coverage for pharmacist rendered services under its current Medicaid program.

Changing the landscape of services that pharmacists can offer is just one goal that this bill hopes to accomplish. With the Affordable Care Act going into place, and more medical providers being open to expanding their practices to include pharmacists in a larger role in everyday tasks, the way that the public views their local pharmacist is set to change. If this bill moves through the senate, the ability of pharmacists and pharmacies to better serve their community and their state.

How has your pharmacy expanded or modified roles of your team to meet the needs of your community in a changing healthcare world? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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