Provider Status: Pharmacists

By Philip Bonet, Class of 2015

During my summer vacation I took a weeklong trip to our nation’s capital. Standing on the steps of the Capitol and facing the National Mall inspired me to become just a bit more actively involved in our nation’s political events.

As a third year pharmacy student one of my concerns is the ability of Florida pharmacists to be recognized as healthcare providers in the eyes of the law.

In case you’ve been living under a rock or are otherwise not familiar with the current healthcare model, pharmacists are currently not considered to be healthcare providers under the letter of the law.

This is something that undoubtedly is a well-UNknown fact to most patients who approach their local community pharmacist for medical advice. Considering the prevalence of  retail and independent pharmacies across the nation it is reasonable to say that pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals available to the public; no appointment needed, just come in and talk to us. The accessibility of the pharmacist to the community is a great hallmark of the profession and as such pharmacists have earned a seat at the healthcare provider table.

While current pharmacy education prepares pharmacists to be clinical and drug experts and endows students who complete the four year program with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, in the eyes of the law pharmacists are not recognized as healthcare providers and as such are vulnerable to the evolving healthcare climate.

One option available to individuals who have a stake in the pharmacy profession is to sit back and hope that leaders in the profession will take care of the issue. However, another more productive option is to contact local and federal representatives. Let your legislators know that as a constituent under their representation, the issue of pharmacists being recognized as healthcare providers is one of the concerns that will impact your life and influence your voting practices!

California is one state that is currently working to empower pharmacists to become integral team players in the healthcare field:

http://www.pharmacist.com/california-provider-status-bill-passes-state-senate#.UbOE5qZotRQ.facebook

I hope to continue to live and work in the state of Florida and it is my hope that Florida will step up and support the vital role that pharmacists play in providing quality care to patients.

If this is an issue you also feel is important please contact any of your local or federal representatives. If you are registered in Florida your representatives’ contact information can be found by following this link:

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx

If you live outside of Florida you can find your senators here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm and house representatives here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/

Sign a petition on Change.org:

http://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-recognize-pharmacists-as-health-care-providers