With the implementation of health-care reform comes a restructuring of the health-care team, and Dean R. Pete Vanderveen traveled to Washington DC to advocate for the role of the pharmacist on that team, voicing support for bills that ensure the ability of the pharmacist to more actively participate in the changing health-care landscape.
During his trip to the capital, Vanderveen visited the offices of Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) to discuss the importance of Senate Bill 274, the Medication Therapy Management Act of 2011.
The dean also met with the offices of Representatives Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), who represents the USC Health Sciences Campus, Karen Bass (D-CA), who represents the USC University Park Campus, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) in support of the House of Representatives Bill 891, the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2011.
Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is a set of services offered by health care professionals to help ensure that medications are taken appropriately and cost effectively. As medication experts, pharmacists are uniquely adept to perform this service, and are often the ones called upon to offer MTM to patients.
“Given today’s health-care challenges, it is imperative that pharmacists are recognized as pivotal members of the health-care team,” says Vanderveen. “Pharmacists have unique medication expertise and should function at the highest level of their training, allowing them to help patients reach optimal outcomes and to save health-care dollars.”
The bills that Vanderveen discussed on Capitol would strengthen MTM programs under Medicare Part D, increase access to MTM based on medical need and provide MTM services as part of transition care upon hospital discharge. These measures ensure the optimal use of hospital pharmacists as the medication expert on the health-care team, improve medication use and enhance patient safety.
Both bills aim to achieve a linchpin of health-care reform, namely the reduction of waste and avoidable costs. These goals will be realized through better coordination of care, reducing costly hospital readmissions due to medication-related problems, educating patients for optimal health outcomes and providing patients -especially those with multiple medications and chronic conditions—routine access to pharmacists. These measures not only benefit the patients, but save valuable health-care dollars.