The time has come for valuepharmacists.com to be relegated to the history. This will be my final blog post.
As I was working on a draft of the upcoming blog post, “Covid Challenges and Opportunities – Vaccinations” I came to a realization that prompted consideration and then confirmation that it was time to shut down the website.
The primary focus of the blog post was discussing the challenges pharmacists faced in providing vaccinations during the Covid 19 pandemic and a brief analysis of what the current situation is in pharmacies now that the crisis is “over.” It was during the research on this blog post that I had my epiphany. I saw the headline “Pharmacy’s New Dirty Little F-Word”. (https://www.drugtopics.com/view/pharmacy-s-new-dirty-little-f-word- )
This article appeared in Drug Topics authored by a Pennsylvania pharmacist discussing the latest challenge pharmacists are facing regarding Covid vaccinations. In a nutshell, “Government money to pay for COVID-19 vaccines has run out, but pharmacists are still obligated to provide these services without compensation.” The four letter word is “FREE.” According to the CDC website the Covid 19 vaccine is free of charge for everyone. Pharmacies will bill either private and public insurance for the vaccine administration fee. The fee for the uninsured patients will be reimbursed through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
There is one “little” problem. The Health Resources and Services Administration plan has run out of money, so there is no longer a mechanism for pharmacies to get paid for services provided to the uninsured. As far as private and public insurance is concerned, Medicare Advantage Plans were supposed to pay starting January 1, 2022, however, some just refuse to pay. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does not require managed care plans to cover out‐of‐network providers unless the Medicare Advantage plan has an out‐of‐network benefit.
Pharmacists are obligated to provide vaccines at no charge because the CDC website says its “FREE.”
As my research continued for the blog post, I found national pharmacy organizations’ websites criticizing the decision by CMS to only ”encourage” but not “require” payment to pharmacists for testing, patient assessment, ordering/prescribing and dispensing for oral Covid 19 antiviral drugs.
It is what I saw on these very same pharmacy organizations’ websites that “sealed the deal.” There is a big push to support Provider Status through a new House bill aiming to reimburse pharmacists providing services under Medicare. The American Pharmacists Association website proclaimed “Pharmacy’s Top Priority: Medicare Provider Status Recognition.”
Why did this headline sound so familiar? Could it be I had seen this proclamation before? As matter of fact, Medicare Provider Status Recognition and Payment for Pharmacists Services by Medicare has been a “top priority” since 2001. See bill HR 4741 2001-2002, Medicare Pharmacy Benefit Act.
Bills were continually introduced since this date with no success. Four more attempts were made in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2014. I blogged about this legislation in August 2015. Will we finally see success 20 years later?
I did a stream of consciousness for ideas for my final blog. After seeing these you will understand why I believe it is time to “hang it up” and shutdown the website.
- Tilting at windmills
- Why do I beat my head against a wall? Because it feels so good WHEN I STOP!!
- Will Pharmacists ever be paid for what they are worth?
- Pharmacists can prescribe – Doctors don’t want you to (see the latest AMA policy statement).
- Converting focus to service rather than product. How will pharmacy survive if payment for services is so difficult to achieve?
It is time for others to carry on the fight for the respect pharmacists deserve and not only demonstrate the worth of pharmacists but translate that into reimbursement for that worth. My respect and admiration for the profession will always be there. I believe pharmacists will always be the most dedicated, committed health care professionals. I Value Pharmacists!
Thanks to all of you who have been part of this journey.
So long and all the best to keep fighting the fight!