Taking the Consultant Pharmacists' Message to Washington

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| Source: American Society of Consultant Pharmacists

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb. 25, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- 2013 was a banner year for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacist's (ASCP) Policy & Advocacy Department and 2014 is looking just as promising. ASCP recently reaffirmed its regulatory and legislative agenda as a means toward achieving the professional organization's vision.

ASCP is actively working with other pharmacy organizations and stakeholders on advocating for a tangible legislative proposal to recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers as defined by the Social Security Act (SSA). To date, pharmacists are not recognized under Section 1861 of the SSA as healthcare providers. This omission makes pharmacists ineligible for reimbursement under Medicare Part B for direct patient care services.
 
The Society continues to be a leading advocate of frail and elderly seniors through the opposition of any policies that might create patient access barriers to necessary pain management medications. ASCP has teamed with other senior and long-term care organizations to interact with regulators, agencies, and policymakers in order to better facilitate legitimate patient access to controlled substances in long-term care facilities. ASCP has also been tracking recent proposed changes in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), including the proposed upscheduling of hydrocodone combination products and tramadol. These proposals may also create access barriers for elderly patients.
 
ASCP also remains an influential voice in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) national off-label antipsychotic medication reduction initiative. Antipsychotic medications are used appropriately in seniors when prescribed for psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia; however, they may be overprescribed in nursing facilities to treat behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with dementia (BPSD). Evidence documenting clinical efficacy of antipsychotics when used for BPSD is variable. As strong advocates for elderly patients, ASCP supports the use of appropriate environmental modifications and non-pharmacologic approaches as initial therapy for the management of BPSD and related ailments.
 
On October 17, 2013, ASCP hosted a successful Virtual Lobby Day, a coordinated effort by ASCP members and other health care professionals from around the country to educate legislators, via electronic messages, on issues of particular importance to consultant and senior care pharmacists. This third annual event had the highest level of participation yet, with more than 1,000 messages sent to hundreds of members of Congress.
 
Since the start of the new year, the Policy & Advocacy Department has been diligently reading, analyzing, and preparing comments on the 678-page CY 2015 Medicare Part D Rule released on January 10 by CMS and the CY 2015 Medicare Advantage Call Letter released on February 21. ASCP will submit substantive comments on both documents that will support the work of consultant and senior care pharmacists across the nation and the care they provide to their patients by the March 7, 2014 regulatory deadline.

Christine Polite
703-739-1300, ext. 134