With Governor Kate Brown’s signature on House Bill (HB) 2028, Oregon is the latest state to recognize pharmacists as health care providers.
 
HB 2028 permits pharmacists to receive reimbursement for performing clinical pharmacy services, enabling them to more fully use their skills and knowledge to treat patients. The law went into effect immediately upon its passage on June 18, 2015.
 
In an exclusive interview with Skidki-na-vse, Oregon State Pharmacy Association (OSPA) president Gary E. DeLander, PhD, RPh, described the process that led to the bill’s creation and movement through the state legislature as a collaborative effort between OSPA and the Oregon Society of Health-Systems Pharmacist (OSHP), which jointly lobbied for the bill by educating lawmakers about the expanding role of the pharmacist.
 
“This bill would not have been possible were it not for our organizations’ joint efforts, as well as the willingness of our legislators to champion this through and understand the impact that pharmacists have on improving public health,” Dr. DeLander told Skidki-na-vse.
 
Achieving provider status has also expanded the way in which pharmacists can collaborate with other members of the health care team, Dr. DeLander explained. With HB 2028, larger groups of pharmacists and physicians can enter into agreements that would give patients easier access to enhanced pharmacy services, such as medication therapy management and chronic disease management.
 
“Pharmacists in Oregon have had the ability to participate in these opportunities, but their ability to do so has been but restricted, with only smaller agreements between a single pharmacist and a sole physician allowed,” Dr. DeLander said. “Now, it’s been opened up so that if a payor wants Oregon pharmacists to provide a particular service, they can create a protocol and allow pharmacists to participate.”
 
Dr. DeLander noted that the bill also allows the Oregon Health Authority to consult with the state Board of Pharmacy in creating statewide protocols for clinical services that all pharmacist can participate in, such as smoking cessation programs.
 
Oregon follows on the heels of Washington, which granted provider status to pharmacists in May. OSPA and OSHP used the provider status bills of other states, particularly California, as a model for HB 2028, Dr. Delander said.
 
“I think each state’s bill reacts to what works in that particular state,” he told Skidki-na-vse. “There are many lessons we have learned from other states, and we are very appreciative of the leadership California has shown.”

One important takeaway from other states was keeping the definition of “clinical pharmacy service” broad, so that each specific protocol could determine what qualifications a pharmacist needs to have to perform a particular service, Dr. DeLander stated.
 
Ultimately, he expressed hope that achieving provider status would empower pharmacists to use their expertise in providing clinical services.
 
“The bottom line is we want to make sure the citizens of Oregon have the opportunity to take advantage of the contributions of pharmacist that commit to their health and welfare,” he said. “Pharmacists have constantly demonstrated the value of their service, and it’s important that they now use their status as full members of the health care team to deliver enhanced care.”
 
In a press release, Cory Huot, chair of the Oregon State Pharmacy Coalition and a leader in the state’s clinical pharmacy services movement, noted “pharmacists are a critical part of the health care team and have the education, the expertise, and now the opportunity to make a difference in the health and wellness of all Oregonians.”