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Pharmacists push for healthcare provider status

The nation's pharmacists are pushing the next Congress to act on a bill designating them as healthcare providers under federal law. 

“We do so much more than safely dispense medicines,” Thomas Menighan, CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, told the The Hill in an interview Monday. “The heath care system hasn’t quite kept up with the training and expertise pharmacists have developed over time.” 

Citing immunizations as an example, Menighan said more than 270,000 pharmacists are trained to administer vaccines

In March, Reps. Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieDem House candidate in Kentucky calls for amnesty for all undocumented immigrants Overnight Cybersecurity: Highlights from Zuckerberg, round two | Senate panel to consider bill protecting Mueller | Pentagon could roll out cyber posture by August Live coverage: Zuckerberg faces second day on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Ky.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), and Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungMnuchin pulls out of Saudi conference On The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference MORE (R-Ind) introduced a House bill that would provide coverage for pharmacist services under the Medicare program. Industry experts anticipate a similar bill will be introduced in the Senate next session and want to keep the topic trending until then. 

Menighan argues that visiting a pharmacist to help manage medications that are prescribed to treat chronic illnesses should be a billable service. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, he said more and more providers are focused on team-based care and including pharmacists in their line-ups.

Spending a few dollars on a pharmacist visit to make sure folks are on the right medicines and know how to take them, Menighan believes can make a huge impact. 

“Health care costs go down and quality improves,” he said.