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Obama?s focus on jobs could open pharmacy doors

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 6:22am
American Pharmacists Association

With health care reform (HCR) buried 25 minutes into last night’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama has pivoted to jobs, recession relief for the middle class, and a new appreciation for the budgetary surpluses achieved during the Clinton administration. Given pharmacy’s success with demonstrating the value of medication therapy management (MTM) to employers—especially those who are self-insured—perhaps the time will be right for pharmacists to approach companies with proposals.

“We won’t give up regardless of what happens with HCR,” Kristina Lunner, APhA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, told pharmacist.com. “MTM affects productivity and total direct costs of health care, and these affect the bottom line of businesses. Small businesses, emphasized by the President in his address, are seeking relief from health care costs. MTM can provide that relief.

Democrats have floated various ideas in the days since last week’s Massachusetts Senate election that cost them their filibuster-proof super majority.

A few have advocated attaching portions of the HCR bill to budget reconciliation legislation. That would enable adoption using a simple majority, but some key Democrats have said they oppose this parliamentary approach. Only provisions of the bill that affect the budget could be enacted using this approach, and MTM would therefore be excluded.

A piecemeal approach is also possible, Lunner said. This would bring various elements of the 2,000-page bill up for separate votes, forcing votes on specific provisions such as insurance company practices and universal coverage. APhA and its partners in HCR will need to work hard to ensure that MTM and other favorable pharmacy-related provisions make it to the floor under any approach.

Lunner emphasized that the bottom line for APhA is that, regardless of what happens from here with HCR at the federal level, a number of approaches can be used to achieve better care of Americans by pharmacists. “Working with members and partnering organizations, APhA will continue its efforts to improve medication use and advance patient care,” she said.

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