Washington state signs ‘transformative legislation’ to recognize pharmacists as providers
WASHINGTON — Earlier this week, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed into law landmark legislation requiring health insurance carriers to include pharmacists as network providers. The legislation, ESSB 5557, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, is the first of its kind in the country to mandate coverage of pharmacists’ patient care services.
Previously, most health insurance carriers in the state of Washington only recognized pharmacists for dispensing medication. Similar barriers still exist at the federal level, where promoting patient access to and coverage of pharmacists’ patient care services continues to be a leading legislative issue for the pharmacy profession.
Thomas E. Menighan, EVP and CEO of The American Pharmacists Association applauded the move and stated, “We applaud the state legislators in Washington for recognizing that the future of health care is about access, quality and team-based care. This transformative legislation will improve patients’ access to direct patient care from pharmacists, while also allowing for greater collaboration among health care providers, both of which will result in improved patient outcomes.”
In late January, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act was introduced in both the U.S. House (H.R. 592) and Senate (S. 314), a critical step in better utilizing pharmacists to positively impact patients and health care. Today, there are 119 bipartisan co-sponsors on the House bill and 14 co-sponsors on the Senate bill.
“States cannot act alone. APhA urges members of Congress to take steps now to improve patient access to health care through pharmacists,” stated Menighan. “As highly accessible professionals with more medication education and training than any other health care provider, pharmacists are in a position to improve quality of care and patient outcomes, especially for those patients living in medically underserved areas.”