February 22, 2014
Pharmacists Are Ready and Qualified
The biggest challenge pharmacist's face is obtaining provider status. As a profession, pharmacists are equipped with the knowledge needed to make the change, but other medical professionals are unwilling to let this happen. With the changing of law under Obamacare, the medical professions may have to allow pharmacists to be considered medical providers and capable of billing Medicaid, Medicare, and other insurance companies. Or, Congress may have to step up and mandate that pharmacists be given provider status.
With shortages already occurring in primary care and family medicine, the wait times for doctor appointments are increasing and many are reducing the number of times per year they are seeing patients. With the increasing number of people being diagnosed with diabetes, care for this chronic disease is being strained to the breaking point in some areas of the United States.
These same areas are short on doctors and other professionals capable of helping people with diabetes. This also applies to people capable of providing education for people with diabetes. A shortage of pharmacists does not seem to be happening on the same level. There may not be an abundance, but there is no extreme shortage of pharmacists. Yet the state medical boards stand in the way of pharmacists obtaining provider status.
“As the number of people with diabetes grows, so does the need for health care providers to give optimal care, and so does the amount of money it takes to do so. Diabetes is a complicated disease. It takes a lot of effort on both the patient and physicians part to maintain control. It's tough to see your doctor when you are sick, and it's even tougher to see them on a regular basis. Doctor visits every other month are not enough for most diabetic patients. Things fluctuate and need regular attention. Often, poor people, Medicaid patients, and people without their own transportation have the most trouble with getting care.”
Pharmacists can be more accessible and they can provide optimal care for patients between visits to the doctor. It is possible for pharmacists to monitor insulin pump data, check glucose readings, look over carbs/diets, and make recommendations for therapy adjustments. The benefits of this type of work can help improve care, optimize control, and save money in the end. Yet the state medical boards stand in the way of pharmacists obtaining provider status.
How many times will I have to say the last sentence? State and national medical groups apply pressure to state medical boards who then lobby state legislators to prevent pharmacists from obtaining provider status.