Submitted by Thomas Buckley, RPh, MPH, CSHP Legislative Chair
The Connecticut General Assembly has begun with a new Governor, many new Commissioners, and many new legislators and legislative committee chairs. This represents an opportunity for pharmacists to make their voices heard to improve their professional workplace and their ability to serve patients.
CSHP has been working with Fred Knous and Knous Associates as their legislative lobbyist for the past 18 years, assisting us in shepherding new laws, such as collaborative practice authority and immunization administration, and monitoring all proposed bills related to our profession that may affect us in a positive or negative way. Over 3,000 new bills will be proposed this session, with perhaps 300 leading to a new or revised law by the time the legislative session ends in early June. Each week the bill monitoring service Fred provides releases a brief review of current bills of interest in the legislative pipeline (Click to read the first “bill book” for this session).
CSHP, working in collaboration with other interested pharmacy entities in the state such as CPA, will be working on three significant new legislative initiatives this session, in addition to closely monitoring other health care and pharmacy-related bills.
1. We will work toward expanding collaborative practice authority (CDTM) legislation to include APRNs, in addition to physicians, with whom pharmacists can collaborate on protocol-driven prescriptive authority.
2. We have proposed HB 6543, a bill that focuses on a major issue of the public health committee this legislative session, tobacco and e-cigarettes, by advocating for pharmacist prescriptive authority for tobacco cessation treatment. There are currently 8-10 states that have some form of pharmacist prescriptive authority for tobacco cessation treatment, and Connecticut will likely pursue legislation similar to Indiana and Idaho that have created state-wide protocols for pharmacist treatment management. This could result in a practice similar to our current immunization administration law, in which pharmacists provide treatment management per protocol upon patient request of services. Click for a good graphic summary of the pharmacist's role in tobacco cessation.
3. The third area of focus for this session and beyond is pharmacist provider status recognition by Medicaid and commercial payers, thereby opening the door for potential reimbursement of pharmacist services from all payers in Connecticut. This initiative will likely require a coalition of pharmacy entities, such as the professional organizations, pharmacy schools, health-system administrators, and other policymakers that understand the cost-effective impact of pharmacists on patient health care outcomes. A law similar to what was recently passed in Ohio provides a potential roadmap of how this initiative could proceed, enabling pharmacists to be on the same playing field as any other provider rendering a service, creating a direct contractual payer/provider relationship.
All of these issues will require a coordinated, active engagement of our members. Please be receptive to reach out to your legislator, particularly if they are a member of a specific committee that oversees our legislative initiatives. CSHP may contact you to advocate directly to your legislator, or through collective advocacy in events such as Pharmacy Day at the Capitol on March 7th at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. More information will be forthcoming on this event, and talking point documents will be produced for each active legislative initiative of interest to us. This event will be in collaboration with CPA, so we anticipate a large turnout of pharmacists from throughout the state, both at the evening reception from 4:30 – 7:00 p.m., and for one-on-one meetings with legislators from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.