Healthcare Business News

Calif. law expands role of pharmacists

By Rachel Landen
Posted: October 2, 2013 - 3:30 pm ET

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Oct. 1 that will expand the ability of pharmacists to serve patients and collaborate with other healthcare providers, resulting in greater access to care and improved quality and efficiency, according to a news release.

Senate Bill No. 493 was introduced in February by Democratic State Sen. Ed Hernandez to address the shortage of primary-care providers in California, which is expected to worsen as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands health coverage to millions of uninsured Californians.

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The legislation includes authorization for pharmacists to administer drugs and routine vaccinations, as well as order and interpret tests to monitor drug therapies. It also establishes board recognition for an advanced-practice pharmacist and specifies additional functions that can be performed by such providers, including patient assessments.

“With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at a time when the number of primary-care physicians continues to shrink, we believe this legislation will help ensure that the millions of new patients receiving insurance will be able to access health care services through their local pharmacist,” California Pharmacists Association CEO Jon Roth said in a news release.

The bill, supported by the California Pharmacist Association and backed by both parties in the California Senate and Assembly, is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The California Medical Association was opposed to the bill in its original form because it authorized pharmacists to perform duties it perceived to be beyond their scope without the collaboration of a physician. But once amendments were added that include integration with a physician and create the advanced-practice pharmacist designation—with appropriate education and training—the association moved their position to a neutral stance.

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden

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