Earlier this week, The New York Times editorialized strongly in favor of expanding the utilization of pharmacists and other health care providers to help alleviate the primary care physician shortage. NCPA echoed that call and expanded on it in a letter to the editor.
The full text of NCPA’s letter follows below. In his speech to the NCPA House of Delegates in October, NCPA President Donnie Calhoun, RPh made a strong case for greater recognition of pharmacists as providers. He discusses this and other issues in detail in an interview that will appear in the January 2013 edition of America’s Pharmacist magazine, available to all NCPA members.
Dec. 18, 2012
To the Editor:
Your editorial “When the Doctor Is Not Needed” cites a U.S. Public Health Service report that “argued persuasively that pharmacists are ‘remarkably underutilized’ given their education, training and closeness to the community.” Your editorial rightly goes on to observe that “various state and federal laws make it hard for pharmacists in private practice to perform” services they are trained for such as managing the care of patients when a doctor prescribes medication as the primary treatment.
Sixteen health professions are officially recognized by Medicare as providers, but not pharmacists. Through patient counseling on the proper use of and adherence to prescribed medications, pharmacists are improving patient health and lowering costs to the health system. In addition, community pharmacists often provide other health services such as immunizations and counseling for diabetes, smoking cessation and obesity. All federal health programs and private plans should recognize pharmacists as providers to enable them to do even more to improve health outcomes and reduce costs for their patients.
Donnie Calhoun, RPh
President, National Community Pharmacists Association